This discussion with TORCH visiting professor and prize-winning poet Kwame Dawes will range widely across a number of critical issues in contemporary African poetry and publishing. The panel will consider the emergence of the American influenced spoken word movement; the connection between activism and performance; the international reception of African poetry as compared to African fiction; and the initiatives being taken to advance African Poetry. Professor Dawes will be joined by JC Niala, Nana Aforiatta-Ayim, and Belinda Zhawi.
Kwame Dawes is Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Glenna Luschei Editor of the literary magazine Prairie Schooner, and a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. His many honours include the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, a Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry, the Musgrave Silver Medal for contribution to the Arts in Jamaica, the Poets & Writers Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award, and a Pushcart Prize. In 2009 he won an Emmy Award for Live, Love, Hope, a multimedia performance poetry and music piece that explores the lives of people living with HIV AIDS in Jamaica. His works of poetry, fiction, plays, and criticism include: City of Bones: A Testament (2017), Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems (2013); Bivouac (2010); She’s Gone (2007); A Far Cry from Plymouth Rock: A Personal Narrative (2006); and Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius (2003). He is co-founder and programming director of the biannual Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica, and founding director of the African Poetry Book Fund, which advances the development and publication of the poetic arts of Africa.