Award-winning poet and playwright celebrated in 10th anniversary of MSU’s ‘Writer-In-Residence’ program

Kwame Dawes (Photo Submitted)

Kwame Dawes, an internationally acclaimed poet, playwright, and author, is joining Mississippi State University as the writer-in-residence. This prestigious program, which is hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences’ Institute for the Humanities and the Department of English, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

From February 27th to March 1st, Dawes will engage with students, staff, and faculty, conducting a writing workshop and sharing readings from his highly praised works.

The public reading by Dawes, which is free and open to all, will take place on February 29th at 7:30 p.m. in Taylor Auditorium at MSU’s McCool Hall. If you cannot attend in person, you can watch the livestream on the College of Arts and Sciences Facebook page:

Following the reading, you will have the opportunity to purchase two of Dawes’ notable publications, “City of Bones: A Testament” (2017) from TriQuarterly Books, an imprint of Northwestern University Press, and “Nebraska” (2019) from the University of Nebraska Press.

A virtual writing workshop, open to the public, will be held on February 28th at 5:30 p.m. This workshop is perfect for anyone interested in writing and wanting to learn from an accomplished author. To participate, please register in advance at to receive the Zoom workshop link.

Julia Osman, the director of the Institute for the Humanities and an associate professor of history, said, “This marks the 10th year of the writer-in-residence program, which was initiated by Dr. Shalyn Claggett of the English department in 2014. It is a thriving program that has brought our students, faculty, and wider community in direct contact with some of the most exciting, energizing, and thoughtful writers of our day.”

Osman, who chairs the program alongside the English department, added, “In addition to widening our scope of literature and poetry, the writer-in-residence program helps each of us contemplate the human condition and walk around the world in another’s shoes. Professor Dawes’s poetry and prose combine different regions, cultures, and language conventions that help us contemplate what it means to be ‘home.’”

Dawes, an accomplished author with 20 books of poetry and numerous other publications, is currently the Glenna Luschei Editor of ‘Prairie Schooner’ at the University of Nebraska and a professor of English. He is also involved with the Pacific University MFA Program in Oregon and serves as the co-founder and programming director of Jamaica’s Calabash International Literary Festival.

Originally from Ghana, Dawes spent much of his life in Jamaica, where he drew inspiration from the island’s vibrant environment and reggae music. In addition to his writing accomplishments, Dawes is also an actor, playwright, producer, and storyteller. He was awarded the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize by Ohio University Press in 2001, as well as the Pushcart Prize for his long poem “Inheritance,” which was selected for inclusion in the anthology celebrating 30 years of Pushcart Prize winners.

Dawes has received numerous accolades for his contributions to the arts, including the Musgrave Silver Medal in Jamaica, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for service to the arts in South Carolina, and a Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry. He is a member of the South Carolina Academy of Authors and a recipient of the 2009 Emmy award for, an interactive site based on his Pulitzer Center project HOPE: Living and Loving with AIDS in Jamaica.

The writer-in-residence program receives financial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council.

For more information about the College of Arts and Sciences, please visit

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