Writers' Workshop Program: January 5-9, 2025

Kwame Dawes

The Poet as Chronicler of Our Times

Kwame Dawes, photo by Andre Lambertson
Kwame Dawes, photo by Andre Lambertson
  • January 5-9, 2025
  • All Levels, $675
See all 2025 Workshops


In this workshop, we will engage in close readings of select poems, exploring critical craft questions to see how meaning intersects with innovative and thoughtful choices in form. In addition, we will have an open discussion about the poem as a “chronicle” of the sentiments of our time.

During the week, students will read aloud two of their own poems (polished but unpublished), to be examined in depth. You will learn both from critique of the work and by critiquing the work of others, with the instructor guiding the discussion. As a longtime literary editor, teacher, poet, and publisher, Dawes brings a wide-ranging knowledge of multiple poetry traditions to bear during interactive sessions. As the flow of the workshop allows, he will offer mini craft “interventions.” The subject of these will be derived from questions placed in a box at the end of each day and in response to the various poetry submissions. Topics like “line endings,” “obsession,” “epigraphs,” and “musicality” will be among such interventions.

Submission deadline for your poems is late fall. (Critique guidelines to be shared then, as well.) Each poem should be two pages max (no more than half a page for prose poems), with no preamble or interpretative notes. After class, Dawes is happy to meet with interested students to discuss their work one-on-one for up to 30 minutes.


  • This is an all-levels workshop.
  • Please submit a cover letter that states your interest in this workshop and gives an overview of your prior workshop experience, if any.
  • The cost is $675. If you are selected to participate in the workshop, a deposit of $300 is required to register, with the balance due by September 30.
  • If you are accepted, you have the option of attending the Keynote on Thursday, January 9, at a reduced price of $150 (we will send you a link upon confirmation). Alternately, you may purchase a ticket to attend the Seminar in full, as it runs after the workshops (January 9 – 12).
  • Financial Assistance is available to those who would not otherwise be able to attend—click here for guidelines and/or to apply for a Workshop Fellowship Award. (Do not submit a regular application if you are requesting financial aid.)
  • Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the class is full.



Kwame Dawes is the poet laureate of Jamaica and author of numerous books of poetry, fiction, criticism, and essays. His most recent collection is Sturge Town. Dawes is the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner, series editor of the African Poetry Book, director of the African Poetry Book Fund, and artistic director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. He is a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Dawes is the winner of the Windham/Campbell Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. In 2022, he was awarded the Order of Distinction Commander class by the government of Jamaica. Currently, he is a George W. Holmes University Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and teaches in the low residency Pacific MFA Program in Oregon.