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In Wheels, Kwame Dawes brings the lyric poem face to face with the politics, natural disasters, social upheavals and ideological complexity of the world in the first part of this century.


Kwame Dawes
Pan African, United States of America, Jamaica, Haiti
Date published
30 Oct 2011

The poems do not pretend to have answers, and Dawes’s core interest remains the power of language to explore and discover patterns of meaning in the world around him. So that whether it is a poem about a near victim of the Lockerbie terrorist attack reflecting on the nature of grace, a sonnet sequence contemplating the significance of the election of Barak Obama, an Ethiopian emperor lamenting the death of a trusted servant in the middle of the twentieth century, a Rastafarian in Ethiopia defending his faith at the turn of the twenty-first century, a Haitian reflecting on the loss of everything familiar, these are poems seeking a way to understand the world.

One sequence is framed around the imagined wheels of the prophet Ezekiel’s vision, mixing in images from Garcia Marquez’s novels, passages from the Book of Ezekiel and the current overwhelming bombardment of wall-to-wall news; another reflects on Ethiopia and Rastafarian faith; and a third dialogues with the postmodernist South Carolinian landscape artist, Brian Rutenberg. At the heart of the collection is a book’s worth of poems written in homage to the people of Haiti following repeated visits after the earthquake of 2010. The collection ends where Dawes’ poetry began: on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica. 

Somewhere between prophecy and meditation, this major and extensive new collection of Kwame Dawes’ work illuminates our confusing world.

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Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes is the author of over thirty five books, and is widely recognized as one of the Caribbean’s leading writers. He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and a Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska. His next book of poetry from Peepal Tree Press will be 'A New Beginning', a cycle of poems written with John Kinsella. He has been elected as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

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