MFA Faculty Kwame Dawes Named Poet Laureate of Jamaica

The Pacific University MFA is thrilled to celebrate the news that faculty poet Kwame Dawes has been named the Poet Laureate of Jamaica, serving a term lasting from 2024-2027. Dawes has long been a member of the MFA poetry faculty, a guiding hand working steadfastly to build a more diverse and equitable program and lending his name to the Kwame Dawes Mapmakers Scholarship. He has published thirty-five books of poetry, and a host of other works across various genres, and edited a volume of essays, When the Rewards Can Be So Great, featuring craft lessons from across the Pacific MFA faculty. 

Dawes is often described as the "Busiest Man in Literature." George Holmes Distinguished Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner magazine at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Dawes told Nebraska Today, “There are many honors one can receive as an artist and as a poet, but one that expresses a nation’s valuing and appreciation of who you are and what you have done is easily at the top for me. I have never stopped seeking ways to serve Jamaica, and I believe this honor offers me even more opportunities.”

Dawes's latest book, Sturge Town, published in the UK in 2023 and forthcoming from W.W. Norton in U.S. later this year, takes Dawes and his readers to Jamaica and far beyond. Reviewed as a "masterwork" in World Literature Today, the collection, "traces both his literal return to Sturge Town, perhaps the most famous of the free towns established for postemancipation Jamaica beginning in the 1830s, and also a set of themes that are delightfully and powerfully illuminating. ... Every poem in this collection seems to be the best of what it tries to be, whether an observation, anthropological recovery, ode, elegy, or even an ars poetica, 'The Making of a Poet,' which explores his theme with vulnerability and confession. This verse collection is the twenty-first for Dawes, and the eighty-six poems here demonstrate a full, masterful command of his art."

The MFA congratulates Kwame Dawes!

Thursday, April 11, 2024