Poetry Everywhere
"I am a tornado child..."

Kwame Dawes

Tornado Child

"Tornado Child" is from the book Wisteria, Twilight Songs from the Swamp Country (2006), a collection of poems by Kwame Dawes, based on his conversations with elders of Sumter, South Carolina, who shared their memories of growing up in the deep South under Jim Crow. Dawes, a prolific poet, playwright, novelist, actor, and musician, was born in Ghana in 1962, and grew up in Jamaica, where the "reggae aesthetic," and in particular the music of Bob Marley, had a profound and lasting impact on the direction of his work. Like Marley, "Dawes understands that redemption is essential," according to the journal Chicken Bones, "and he finds it in the pure music of his art." In 2001 Dawes was awarded both the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize by the University of Ohio Press, and the Push Cart Prize for Best American Poetry. Dawes is the Distinguished Poet-in-Residence at University of South Carolina, founder and Executive Director of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative, and Programming Director for the annual Calabash International Literary Festival, in Jamaica. This animation was created by Nicole Garrison. The poem is read here by Kwame Dawes.

To read this and other poems by Kwame Dawes, as well as biographical information about the poet, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.