Kwame Dawes, an award-winning poet and the author of a book about the lyrics of Bob Marley, will deliver the Emory & Henry College Leidig Poetry Lecture Monday, April 14, at the College.
The Leidig Poetry Reading will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Wiley Auditorium. The reading is free and open to the public. Dawes will also be giving a craft lecture at 3 p.m. in the Calliopean Room of Byars Hall for students and interested community members.
Born in Ghana in 1962, Kwame Dawes spent most of his childhood and early adult life in Jamaica. He is a writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and plays. As a poet, he is profoundly influenced by the rhythms and textures of that lush place, citing in an interview his “spiritual, intellectual, and emotional engagement with reggae music.” His book, Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius, remains the most authoritative study of the lyrics of Bob Marley.
Of his sixteen collections of poetry, his most recent titles include Duppy Conqueror (Copper Canyon, 2013); Wheels (2011); Back of Mount Peace (2009); Hope's Hospice (2009); Wisteria, finalist for the Patterson Memorial Prize; Impossible Flying (2007); and Gomer's Song (2007). Progeny of Air (Peepal Tree, 1994) was the winner of the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in the UK.
Dawes was a winner of a Pushcart Prize for the best American poetry of 2001 for his long poem, "Inheritance."
He has published two novels: Bivouac (2009) and She's Gone (2007), winner of the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Best First Novel. In 2007 he released A Far Cry From Plymouth Rock: A Personal Narrative. His essays have appeared in numerous journals including Bomb Magazine, The London Review of Books, Granta, Essence, World Literature Today, and Double Take Magazine.
In 2009, Dawes won an Emmy for LiveHopeLove.com, an interactive site based on Kwame Dawes's Pulitzer Center project, HOPE: Living and loving with AIDS in Jamaica. It has won other accolades including a People's Voice Webby Award, and was the inspiration for the music/spoken word performance Wisteria & HOPE which premiered at the National Black Theatre Festival in North Carolina.
In 2011, Dawes reported on HIV AIDS after the earthquake in Haiti; and his poems, blogs, articles, and documentary work were a key part of the post-earthquake Haiti reporting by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting that won the National Press Club Joan Friedenberg Award for Online Journalism. Dawes is an actor, playwright, and producer, an accomplished storyteller, broadcaster, and was the lead singer in Ujamaa, a reggae band. Fifteen of his plays have been produced, and he has acted in, directed, or produced several of these productions himself, most recently One Love at the Lyric Hammersmith in London.