Poet Kwame Dawes back in Columbia this Saturday

Poet and Verner Award recipient Kwame Dawes returns to Columbia for a workshop presented by Allen University on Saturday, Aug. 18.

Dawes, a former USC professor now working as Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska, will lead a workshop titled “The Art of Spoken and Written Word/Poetry in the Bible.” The workshop will be held on Saturday at Bishop Memorial AME Church (2221 Washington St., Columbia) from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Refreshments and a light lunch will be served. The workshop is free and open to the public, but you must register online first.

The workshop will explore poetic moments in the Bible and turn them into spaces of inspiration for new poems. Spoken Word poets, page poets, anyone interested in exploring their creative side are welcome. Kwame Dawes will create spaces to explore language and lyric that will result in forms of creative expression that will be “as urgent and vulnerable as true prayer,” says Dawes. Allen’s year-long project titled “Standing in the Need of Prayer” focuses on the use of art in worship and prayer and is partnering with four neighborhood churches: Bishop Memorial AME Church, First Calvary Baptist Church, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church.

Born in Ghana in 1962, Dawes spent most of his childhood in Jamaica. As a poet, he is profoundly influenced by the rhythms and textures of the country, citing in a recent interview his “spiritual, intellectual, and emotional engagement with reggae music.” His book Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius (2007) remains the most authoritative study of the lyrics of Bob Marley. Read his full bio on PoetryFoundation.org.

In 2008, the South Carolina Arts Commission presented him with the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts in the individual category. In 2009 he was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors.

Photo courtesy of PoetryFoundation.org.