CHICAGO, — Award-winning poet, author, and editor Kwame Dawes, PhD, today published his first weekly column as American Life in Poetry editor, in partnership with the Poetry Foundation and University of Nebraska Lincoln, and relaunches a new and engaging website to connect people to poetry through interests, geography, and representation.
Dawes carries the column forward after founding editor and curator, Ted Kooser, retired after 15 years as project creator and editor. The first poem featured is “They Dance Through Granelli’s” by Pat Emile – an homage to the recently retired editorial assistant of the project for 15 years. Dawes seeks to maintain, and expand the original vision for the column by continuing to reach readers through local news media outlets, as well as subscribers to the newsletter that publishes weekly on Mondays.
“This column is rooted in the everyday, the broad sense of Americanness that eschews elitism and that embraces a democratic sense of lives that make sense to a vast cross section of the population,” Dawes said. “I welcome readers who can engage in a wide section of American life, can find poetry that speaks to various aspects of American existence, and that somehow embraces the full range of this America.”
Along with a completely refreshed visual statement, the website features increased browsing and discovery capabilities, new photography, and an increased social media presence. Front and center allows users the ability to browse past columns by theme and region.
“The site allows for readers to dig deeper into what they may see in the newsletter or on social media,” Dawes said. “We want readers to stay on the site for awhile and get comfortable with poetry, or to find new ways to engage with poems whether that’s through a love of sports or geography.”
Dawes hopes new readers will connect with American Life in Poetry by finding columns that are approachable and speak to their interests, particularly for new poetry readers. With over 60 different themes that can be combined while searching, users can find a poem that speaks to gardening and unrequited love from the archive which includes more than 800 poems.
Dawes is the author of twenty-two books of poetry and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. His collection, Nebraska was published in 2020. He is George W. Holmes University Professor of English, Glenna Luschei Editor of Prarie Schooner at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and also teaches the Pacific MFA Program. He is director of the African Poetry Book Fund and Artistic Director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. Dawes is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
His awards include an Emmy, National Press Club Joan Friedenberg Award for Online Journalism, the Forward Poetry Prize, the Musgrave Silver Medal for contribution to the Arts in Jamaica, the Governor’s Award for service to the arts in South Carolina, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry. In 2009 he was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors.
About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs.