Kwame Dawes was born on July 28, 1962, in Ghana. His family moved to Jamaica as a child, and they also lived in England, Canada, and the United States. He was the son of Neville and Sophia (Tevi) Dawes. Neville Dawes was a writer. Sophia (Tevi) Dawes was an artist and social worker. In 1971 the Dawes family moved to Kingston, Jamaica, where Neville Dawes was offered a position as deputy director of the Institute of Jamaica. This is where Kwame Dawes fell in love with reggae music. In 1983 his father died in an unfortunate accident.
Dawes received his B.A. in English from the University of the West Indies at Mona in 1983 and a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of New Brunswick in 1992.
Dawes first studied and then taught in New Brunswick, Canada, on a Commonwealth Scholarship. At the University of New Brunswick, he was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Brunswickan.
In 1982 Kwame Dawes became a founder and artistic director at Christian Graduate Theatre Company in Kingston, Jamaica. From 1992 to 1996 Dawes worked as an assistant professor of English at the University of South Carolina in Sumter, South Carolina. From 1993 to 1996 he was a chairman of the Division of Arts and Letters. In 1994 Dawes became a guest lecturer at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. In 1996 Kwame Senu Neville Dawes became an associate professor at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. Also he was an associate fellow at the Centre for Caribbean Studies at Warwick University. Later in 1999 Kwame was a visiting fellow at the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
In 2001 he became a director of the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina. He was also the faculty advisor for the publication Yemassee.
Dawes collaborated with a San Francisco-based writer and composer Kevin Simmonds on Wisteria: Twilight Songs from the Swamp Country, which debuted at London's Royal Festival Hall in 2006, and featured sopranos Valetta Brinson and Valerie Johnson.
Kwame Dawes's honors include the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, 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, Pushcart Prize, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. Also in 2008 the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award was given to him for service to the arts in South Carolina. In 2009 Dawes was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors, and he won an Emmy Award for Live, Love, Hope, a multimedia performance poetry and music piece that explores the lives of people living with HIV AIDS in Jamaica.
Dawes is currently the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and Chancellor's Professor of English at the University of Nebraska. The co-founder and programming directory of the Calabash International Literary Festival and a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Dawes also teaches in the Pacific MFA Writing Program and is on the faculty of Cave Canem.
Poems - 10 in all
Kwame Dawes - 2 ~ New ~
It Bruises, Too
A Way of Seeing
The Glory Has Left the Temple