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The Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Awards

Kwame Dawes
2008 Recipient for an Individual

Kwa me DawesKwame Dawes is recognized as a master poet on the statewide, national and international level. He has designed and implemented arts-based programs that celebrate poetry; forged new terrain to create space for the writing, reading and performing of poetry; and mentored numerous emerging poets.He has done this all while managing to produce a bountiful representation of his own work.


His most recent works include the novel, She's Gone, a book of poetry, Gomer's Song, and a non-fiction work, A Far Cry From Plymouth Rock: A Personal Narrative. His essays have appeared in numerous journals, and 20 of his plays have been produced over the past 25 years.


Under the umbrella of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative, an organization that he founded and directs, Dawes has implemented a series of programs that encourage the writing and reading of poetry. One of his first initiatives was the design of the S.C. Poetry Initiative Web site, which serves as a resource for both teachers and poets, and provides information about poetry workshops, contests, and events. Another initiative is the annual Poets Summit, which he organized to provide a forum for poets in S.C. to discuss the state of poetry and network with other poets.


In addition, Dawes is director of the University of South Carolina Arts Institute, Distinguished Poet in Residence, Louis Frye Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts and the programming director of the annual Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica.