Kwame Dawes sings of Jamaica

May 23, 2013

By: Stanzi Vaubel, UniVerse of Poetry

(Courtesy: Kwame Dawes)

Imagination is the seed of empathy – a centrally important function – and both the gift and burden of the writer.  Here The Gift series producer Stanzi Vaubel talks to poet Kwame Dawes, who writes in many voices, and who laughs that this is the curse of the writer. “I live in you, I feel everything,” he says to his brother.  Here he shares a poem called “Impossible Flight” in which he observes the 1980 Revolution in Jamaica and tries to hold his brother to earth – to its beauty and its pains.


Kwame Dawes is the author of 16 award-winning books of poetry, including Wisteria, Hope’s Hospice, Wheels, and his most recent book of selected poems, Duppy Conquerer, which he reads from here. Dawes has also written novels and scholarly work and plays, fifteen of which have been produced.  He has won an Emmy Award for his Pulitzer-supported project “LiveHopeLove.com,” in which he reported on H.I.V., Aids in post-earthquake Haiti.  Dawes was born in Ghana and raised in Jamaica.

First launched in April 2013 to celebrate National Poetry Month, WBEZ now continues our weekly series, The Gift – produced by Stanzi Vaubel and curated by Rachel Jamison Webster, author of September: Poems. This project is a collaboration with UniVerse of Poetry, a station partner that aims to celebrate poets from every nation in the world.  Each piece drops us into a poets’ inner life, reminding us of the gift of being human among others.