Our congratulations to Kwame Dawes for his new position as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. See more information at poets.org.
The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that Marilyn Chin, Kwame Dawes, and Marie Howe have been named its newest Chancellors, an honorary position that has been held by some of the most distinguished poets in the United States, including W. H. Auden, John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, Yusef Komunyakaa, Adrienne Rich, and Mark Strand.
As new members of the Board of Chancellors, Chin, Dawes, and Howe will consult with the organization on matters of artistic programming, serve as judges for the organization’s largest prizes for poets, and act as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large. [. . .] Each Chancellor serves for a period of six years.
Kwame Dawes was born in Ghana and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. He received a BA from the University of the West Indies at Mona in 1983 and went on to study and teach in New Brunswick, Canada, on a Commonwealth Scholarship. In 1992, he received a PhD in English from the University of New Brunswick.
In 1994, he published his first collection of poetry, Progeny of Air (Peepal Tree Press), which received the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection. He is also the author of City of Bones: A Testament (Northwestern University Press, 2017), Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2013), Wheels (Peepal Tree Press, 2010), New and Selected Poems, 1994–2002 (Peepal Tree Press, 2003), Midland (Ohio University Press, 2001), and Prophets (Peepal Tree Press, 1995), among many others.
Academy Chancellor Ellen Bass says Dawes’s “brilliant poetry is deeply compassionate, ruthlessly honest, rich in spirit, imagination, and intelligence. His colossal outpouring of poems both stun and console us. Rooted in music, they sing of struggle and transcendence. The breadth of his work as a poet of witness, documentarian, collaborator, performer and more has brought the world to poetry and poetry to the world.”
His honors include the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for service to the arts in South Carolina, 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. He is the founding director of the African Poetry Book Fund and cofounder and programming director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. He is currently the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner at the University of Nebraska, where he is a Chancellor’s Professor of English.
About the Academy of American Poets: The Academy of American Poets is the nation’s largest membership-based nonprofit organization championing poets and poetry. The organization produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly-funded website for poets and poetry; National Poetry Month; the popular Poem-a-Day series; American Poets magazine; resources for K-12 educators; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events. In addition, since its founding in 1934, the Academy has awarded more money to poets than any other organization through its American Poets Prizes.
[Photo above by Andre Lamberston. Accessed via https://literature.britishcouncil.org/writer/kwame-dawes