“We are all natives to some acre on this earth – where the honey is gentle on our skins, and the air is familiar as ritual.”
– Sugar by Kwame Dawes
Reconciling “home” and its many meanings is a universal challenge. It’s been said the average American will move or relocate 11 times during their lifetime. For Kwame Dawes, it’s a central theme in his work as a writer – amplified by the dramatic shifts of his cultural and geographical journey. Born in Ghana, his family moved to Jamaica when he was 9, where he spent his adolescence and college years. Graduate school and a teaching stint brought him to Canada, before he relocated to the United States as a college professor and eventually found himself living in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“Dawes reminds us that a poem can be a home for us, even temporarily - a home that we make out of breath and carefully crafted syllables.”
– NPR All Things Considered
Nicknamed “the busiest man in literature,” Dawes is an award-winning poet, novelist, playwright, anthologist, musician and critic – renowned for his visceral, insightful and compassionate explorations of rootedness and migration, freedom and confinement, tradition and change. Nebraska Poems is his 21st book of poetry and in many ways it’s his most personal. Navigating the wide-open spaces and seasons of Nebraska, he feels at once alien and deeply committed to the challenges of finding home. Icy winter walks through the city stir warm memories of his Kingston childhood village, and yet when he travels, he finds himself longing for the open space of the plains. What is home? A complicated answer – beautifully articulated by one of the most important voices in poetry today.
Dawes is Editor-in-Chief of Prairie Schooner, Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, and a teacher in the Pacific MFA Program in Oregon. His accolades include the prestigious Windham/Campbell Literary Award, the Forward Poetry Prize, an Emmy for his reporting on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica, Pushcart Prizes, The Paul Engle Prize, the Shestak Prize, the Hurston/Wright Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship.