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Kwame Dawes, Jamaica College Alumnus, Appointed Jamaica's Next Poet Laureate

In a landmark decision, Professor Kwame Dawes, a renowned poet and Jamaica College Old Boy, has been appointed as the next Poet Laureate of Jamaica. This esteemed recognition, bestowed by a seven-member committee administered by the National Library of Jamaica, marks a significant milestone in the literary landscape of the nation.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, announced the appointment, highlighting Professor Dawes' exceptional qualifications and contributions to Jamaican literature.

“I am pleased with the selection of Professor Dawes. He is deserving of this honour given his years of foundational work and contributions made to the literary landscape of Jamaica. Professor Dawes is a naturalised citizen of Jamaica, having grown up here, and in 2004 was awarded the Musgrave Silver Medal for Literature. In 2022, he was awarded National Honours, the Order of Distinction Commander class,” Grange added.

During his tenure as Poet Laureate from 2024 to 2027, Professor Dawes will spearhead a program aimed at fostering the reading, writing, and promotion of Jamaican poetry. This role comes as a culmination of his decades-long commitment to the craft, including the publication of 35 poetry collections, as well as works of fiction and essays.

The appointment of Professor Dawes also underscores the continued evolution of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica Program, which celebrates its 10th anniversary since its inception in post-Independent Jamaica. Previous laureates, including Professors Mervyn Morris, Lorna Goodison, and Olive Senior, have each left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of Jamaica, paving the way for Professor Dawes to continue this rich tradition.

In addition to his literary achievements, Professor Dawes has been acknowledged for his steadfast support of the Jamaican community at home and in the Diaspora. In 2017, he was honored by the Jamaica College Old Boys Association of New York with the 'Order of the Griffin' Distinguished Alumnus Award, further cementing his legacy of service and dedication.

As Professor Dawes assumes the mantle of Poet Laureate, he brings with him not only a wealth of literary talent but also a profound commitment to celebrating the rich tapestry of Jamaican culture. His appointment heralds a new chapter in the nation's literary journey, one that promises to inspire and uplift generations to come.


Kwame Dawes is a celebrated poet and scholar whose work explores identity, migration, and the human condition. His acclaimed works span genres, including 35 poetry collections like "Progeny of Air" and "City of Bones," alongside fiction and essays. Dawes' innovative spirit extends beyond writing. He won an Emmy for a project on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica and co-founded the Calabash International Literary Festival. He is a distinguished professor, solidifying his influence in both literature and academia.


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