“HIV/AIDS is defined by people: their complex lives, their bravery, their fear, their sadness, their need, their laughter, their inconsistencies–basically, their rich humanity. These people taught me how to write about hope, and the beauty in the ordinariness of all our lives.” Kwame Dawes (HOPE: Living & Loving with HIV in Jamaica)
HOPE: Living & Loving with HIV in Jamaica (LiveHopeLove.com) is an interactive web presentation that underscores the human dimension of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the Caribbean. This a multi-media reporting project presents the lives of people touched by HIV/AIDS through poetry, photography, music, videos, video interviews, and essay.
Ghanaian-Jamaican poet and writer Kwame Dawes journeyed to Jamaica as a special correspondent to explore the experience of people living with HIV/AIDS and to examine the ways in which the disease shaped their lives. Dawes listened to people’s stories and learned, not only about the difficulties, the anguish, and the stigma suffered by the afflicted, but also about resilience, hope and possibility in the face of despair. Based on his travels and interviews, he wrote an essay for The Virginia Quarterly Review (Spring 2008) and a remarkable collection of essays dedicated to people from all walks of life who shared their life stories, some who are living with the disease and others who have committed their lives to HIV/AIDS care. The site includes other fascinating sections: “Vital Voices,” which allows us to listen to the people behind the poems; “InFocus Videos,” two short documentaries produced for the public-television program Foreign Exchange; “Image Gallery,” which features the photography of Josh Cogan; and “The Music,” a selection of Kwame’s poems set to music by composer, Kevin Simmonds.
Kwame Dawes is the Distinguished Poet in Residence and Louis Frye Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of South Carolina. He is the founder and executive director of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative, director of the University of South Carolina Arts Institute, and the programming director of the Calabash International Literary Festival, which takes place in Jamaica in May of each year.
Hope: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica is the second of two Caribbean reporting initiatives undertaken by the Pulitzer Center with support from the MAC AIDS Fund. The first one produced was Heroes of HIV: HIV in the Caribbean.
For the interactive web presentation, see http://www.livehopelove.com/#/home/
For more on the Pulitzer Center, see http://www.pulitzercenter.org/showproject.cfm?id=61