The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $750,000 grant to an international team led by Kwame Dawes, professor of English, and Lorna Dawes, associate professor of University Libraries, to expand an online portal for African poetry.
Initially established in 2017, the African Poetry Digital Portal documents the work of African poets and provides digital access to related creative and intellectual artifacts, materials and research. It is currently comprised of two major sections, “Contemporary African Poets” and “African Poets and Poetry in the News.”
The three-year Mellon Foundation grant provides support for the portal’s next phases: expanding research and scholarship relating to African poetry and joining with other institutions to create a digital collections hub that will give access to materials held by institutions worldwide.
“Poets have always understood themselves to be part of an ancient tradition that dates back into antiquity,” said Kwame Dawes, George Holmes Professor of English, Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and editor of the African Poetry Book series published by University of Nebraska Press. “Unfortunately, racism and other forms of power dynamics have limited our understanding of the threads of this tradition in parts of the world that were exploited. The fact is that rich and sophisticated poetic practices and traditions have always existed in African societies and continue to thrive in Africa.