The winning manuscript of the fourth annual Hollis Summers Poetry Prize is also the exciting American debut by a poet who has already established himself as an important international poetic voice. Midland, the seventh collection by Kwame Dawes, draws deeply on the poet’s travels and experiences in Africa, the Caribbean, England, and the American South. Marked equally by a lushness of imagery, an urgency of tone, and a muscular rhythm, Midland, in the words of the final judge, Eavan Boland, is “a powerful testament of the complexity, pain, and enrichment of inheritance…It is a compelling meditation on what is given and taken away in the acts of generation and influence. Of a father’s example and his oppression. There are different places throughout the book. They come willfully in and out of the poems: Jamaica. London. Africa. America. But all the places become one place in the central theme and undersong here: which is displacement…The achievement of this book is a beautifully crafted voice which follows the painful and vivid theme of homelessness in and out of the mysteries of loss and belonging.”
Midland is the work of a keen and transcendent intellect, a collection of poems that speaks to the landscape from inside, from an emotional and experiential place of risk and commitment.