Past Issue: Kwame Dawes


Fall 2018 |Kwame Dawes | Vol. 2, Iss. 2

Welcome to The Fight & The Fiddle, a publication of the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University. Each issue gives you a 360-degree view of a Black poet, including an interview, new poems, a critical essay, and a writing prompt inspired by our featured poet. 


The inimitable Kwame Dawes is the featured poet in this issue of The Fight & The Fiddle. The author and editor of more than 45 books of fiction, poetry, and criticism, Dawes is without doubt one of the most prolific writers of our time. He was born in Ghana, raised in Jamaica, studied in Canada, and has lived in various parts of the U.S. for most of his career. His work takes as its inspiration the intimacies of love, the intricacy of family, contemporary and historical social injustice, visual arts, and music to name a few sources. In addition to his contributions as a writer, Dawes is also an influential cultural curator of international scope: he serves as the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner (U.S.), director of the African Poetry Book Fund (U.S./Africa), artistic director of the Calabash International Literary Festival (Jamaica), Chancellor of the National Academy of American Poets, and a Royal Society of Literature Fellow (U.K.). He teaches at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and at the Pacific MFA program.

  • The Interview: Kwame Dawes talks to editor Lauren K. Alleyne about the tradition of poetry, his love of editing and television, as well as the exciting landscape of contemporary poetry.
  • Critical Review: In her essay, “A Testament to Transformation,” Dr. Sheryl Gifford considers Dawes’ City of Bones and how he uses traditional form to embody and enact the complicated relationship between Black fathers and sons in the context of a racist, patriarchal society.
  • Poems: Read “Singing around the Piano” “The Middle Classes” and “The Tent of Gladness” by Kwame Dawes.
  • Writing Prompt: Redemption Song: Writing the Music



Photo by Adriana Hammond.