kwame dawes oxford

Kwame Dawes in Oxford

Katherine Collins

During Kwame Dawes’s residency in Oxford in 2018, he gave generously of his time and enthusiasm for poetry in a series of events. These included the panel discussion The Poetic Arts of Africa: Creative and Critical Voices, where he was joined by poets and writers Belinda Zhawi, JC Niala, and Nana Oforiatta Ayim. The discussion ranged across a number of critical issues in contemporary African poetry and publishing: the emergence of the American-influenced spoken word movement; the connection between activism and performance; the international reception of African poetry as compared to African fiction; and the initiatives being taken to advance African Poetry, including Dawes’s exciting plans for the African Poetry Digital Portal. Following a lively discussion between panel members and the audience, Dawes launched an interactive exhibition that tells the story of the first five years of the African Poetry Book Fund and its promotion of African poetry worldwide. The exhibit was curated by Professor Lorna Dawes of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and features the work of award-winning artist Walter Kitundi.

African Poetry Digital Portal

The Portal that Kwame and Lorna Dawes are currently developing will provide access to book manuscripts, newspapers and periodicals, newsletters, audio and video recordings, websites and related images of African poetry written by Africans from antiquity to the present. It will index and, where possible, provide access to, the largest global collection of manuscript images. It also features specially curated digital projects on various aspects of African poetry, such as African Poetry in Performance and Fusion Africa: African National Poetries in Conversation.

The Portal will include featured research projects on: precolonial poetic, performance, and oratory traditions on the continent; a series of translated works modelled on Jalada’s Translation Issues, featuring traditional African poems written in African languages and translated into as many languages – both African and beyond – as possible; and online anthologies of African poetry in African languages. A link to the Portal will appear on this site in due course.

Cite the text: Collins, Katherine. “Kwame Dawes in Oxford” Postcolonial Writers Make Worlds, 2019, [scf-post-permalink]. Accessed 31 January 2022.