Writings of the general word's body

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dawes Edits Peepal Tree


Award winning poet, Kwame Dawes joins Peepal Tree Press, the leading publisher of Caribbean literature and Black British literature, as Associate Poetry Editor from January 2007.

Kwame Dawes is the author of 14 collections of poetry, including the winner of the Forward Poetry Prize - Best First Collection for Progeny of Air, published by Peepal Tree Press (1994). He currently holds the position of Distinguished Poet In Residence and Louise Fry Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of South Carolina.

Dawes has published 7 of his collections, including his New and Selected Poems, with Peepal Tree Press as well as a collection of short stories, a memoir and other non-fiction titles.

His role will be to build the poetry list for this specialist independent press that celebrates its 21st anniversary this month. Dawes will select four new poetry manuscripts a year, from Caribbean poets from the islands and the diaspora and new Black British poets, many of whom he has worked with over the past 10 years, when he started the Afro Poetry School in London. This ‘School’ nurtured poets such as Chris Abani, Bernardine Evaristo and Dorothea Smartt, the latter two whom both published their first collections of poetry with Peepal Tree Press. Dawes will also be editing the forthcoming anthology, RED, a contemporary collection of Black British poets to be published in Autumn 2007, the first such anthology of contemporary Black British poets since The Fire People, nearly ten years ago.

Dawes said: “The aim is to make Peepal Tree Press a first stop for poets interested in books of impeccable design, solid editing, and a strong support system for the authors and the promotion of the work.”

On accepting this new position, Dawes said: “I am a Peepal Tree poet who has gained a great deal from this relationship. I have full belief in the quality of the poets already published by the press, but I also have a clear vision of how this press can grow and how Caribbean poetry can be enhanced by the work that Peepal Tree does."

"Above all, I am committed to the long term survival and growth of Peepal Tree Press, and if I can play some part in ensuring that it continues to improve as a publishing house, then that would make me happy.”

Dawes has great ideas and visions for what he intends to achieve, both for Peepal Tree Press and poetry in Britain:

“I want to help the press streamline its brand, to ensure that what we call a ‘Peepal Tree poetry book’ has a character, a quality and a certain identity that is distinctive.”

He believes that his involvement will be of particular significance for Black British poets:

“Peepal Tree's Caribbean list is already impressive; we want to sharpen the brand of what we publish in terms of quality and daring. We want to commit to poets, not just to a single book. At the same time, we want Peepal Tree to be a first stop for Black British poets--a venue that will produce work of the highest standard and that will, ultimately, challenge the somewhat homogenous output of the major British poetry houses. Peepal Tree Press can be one of those publishing houses that will infuse dynamic work into the market by introducing new and exciting poets to the list.”

Jeremy Poynting, publisher and founding editor of Peepal Tree Press, said that Dawes is the the right person at the right time for the future development of Peepal Tree’s poetry list:

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome Kwame Dawes to the team. We have been in existence for 21 years and taking on Kwame is part of an extensive review of where we have come from and where we want to go. We are justly proud of the poetry collections we have published in the past, but what we felt we needed was to refresh and reshape our purpose. I knew that we needed someone with a sure eye for the future and the capacity to work closely with new poets on the development of their work. Having worked with Kwame over the past dozen years, I recognise him as not only the leading Caribbean poet of his generation, but also as someone with the highest editorial standards and generous but exacting skills in working with other writers. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship.”

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