Since 2017, the African Poetry Digital Portal at Nebraska has opened the work of African poets to readers and scholars around the world.
“The fact is that rich and sophisticated poetic practices and traditions have always existed in African societies and continue to thrive,” said Kwame Dawes, George Holmes Professor of English, Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and editor of the African Poetry Book series published by the University of Nebraska Press.
“Unfortunately, racism and other forms of power dynamics have limited our understanding of this tradition in parts of the world that were exploited.”
A free resource, the African Poetry Digital Portal documents the work and lives of African poets. It currently contains two major sections: Contemporary African Poets and African Poets and Poetry in the News.
An international team assembled by Dawes and co-principal investigator Lorna Dawes, associate professor of University Libraries, will expand the portal, using a three-year, $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Unfortunately, racism and other forms of power dynamics have limited our understanding of this tradition in parts of the world that were exploited.Kwame Dawes
With expert assistance from Nebraska’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, investigators will create a hub giving access to collections held by leading institutions worldwide, starting with these partners: University of Cape Town in South Africa, University of Lomé in Togo and University of Ghana; University of Oxford and Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; and Northwestern University, University of Michigan and the Library of Congress in the United States.
The portal will anchor new scholarly and creative activities, with Mellon Foundation funds supporting six doctoral research assistantships, three digital humanities research grants, 78 research stipends and a four-person technology team from the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. They also will support undergraduate research stipends at collaborating institutions.
“Thanks to Professor Dawes’ longstanding and visionary leadership, the English department at UNL has established itself over the last half decade as one of the absolute best places to study African poetics,” said Marco Abel, Willa Cather Professor of English and Film Studies, and department chair. “With Mellon’s support, this project is now poised for a massive institutional transformation.”
+ Additional content for Creating Global Access to African Poetry
Nebraska news release: Mellon grant to transform African poetry research, scholarship
Website: African Poetry Digital Portal