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Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes is the author of numerous books of poetry, fiction, criticism, and essays, including Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon, 2013). He has edited more than a dozen anthologies. He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and teaches at the University of Nebraska and in the Pacific MFA Program. He is the director of the African Poetry Book Fund and the artistic director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. 


The Guardy and the Shame

June 13, 2015 | Multimedia

Kwame Dawes confronts the legacy of homophobia and the shame in Jamaica's largely Christian culture.

To Disclose or Not?

May 29, 2015 | Multimedia

In early December 2013 and early 2014, writer Kwame Dawes and photographer Andre Lambertson traveled to Jamaica to investigate the experience of people living with HIV/AIDS in the Christian church.

The Guardy and the Shame

January 6, 2015 | Reporting

Jamaicans are primed to contend with all who speak ill of their country. As someone who grew up and lived in Jamaica until my midtwenties—although I now live in the US—I understand how the culture reacts to criticism.

City of Dust, City of Stones

Spring 2011 | Essays

Photographer Andre Lambertson and I visited Haiti together four times during 2010. We spent a week there on each occasion. We were there to learn and tell the story of HIV/AIDS in Haiti after the earthquake. Three hundred thousand Haitians died during that quake. Three hundred thousand. There are still bodies in the rubble. They may never be recovered. But millions now live with the memory of their loss. Among that number are the special people who we came to know—the people who are living with HIV/AIDS.


Deep Empathy

I met Andre Lambertson less than a year ago in New York. I was on a panel at a leading journalism school talking about work I had done with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica for VQR and for a website called I had come to say a few words and then to be quiet, to listen. 


A series of paired photographs and poems that document the effects of deprivation, poverty, and racism on young people in the United States.

Annesha Taylor’s daughter prays at an altar constructed in their backyard in Arnett Gardens in Kingston.

Learning to Speak: The New Age of HIV/AIDS in the Other Jamaica

Spring 2008 | Reporting

When I first see Sherene, I can’t help wondering why a teenaged girl is hanging around the clinic on a Saturday afternoon. She is slim, compact, and wears an extremely short denim skirt and a red wool halter-top but seems youthfully uncertain about her body. Her dark shoulders gleam with a hint of sweat from walking to the clinic, though her light makeup is still intact. When she speaks, she announces that she has been in the support group for five years and that she had been living with the virus for six. She tells the story of her three children—the eldest, now eleven, living with her father in Kingston—and the struggle to raise and feed the other two. I’ve misjudged her age completely.