University of South Carolina

English professor wins Emmy for HIV project

Dr. Kwame Dawes, distinguished poet-in-residence at the University of South Carolina, won a News & Documentary Emmy Award for his Web-based project, “Hope: Living & Loving with HIV in Jamaica.” The awards ceremony was held last night (Sept. 21) in Lincoln Center in New York City.

Kwame Dawes
Kwame Dawes

During the last four months of 2007, Dawes, the director of the university’s Arts Institute and Louise Fry Scudder Professor of English, made five trips to Jamaica to learn and write about the impact of HIV/AIDS in the country where he grew up.

One result of those trips is the “Hope” Web site, which includes poems, photos, video and music inspired by the people Dawes met.

“None of us sitting around a conference room at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting’s office in [Washington] D.C. imagined that this was going to go so far,” he said. “What we knew was that we were embarked on a challenging and importing undertaking, and we were sitting with talented and amazingly committed people. The people I met along the way, the stories they told me, the way they opened their lives to me and the way that this team worked together to create such a beautiful and moving piece all speaks to the value of good will and professionalism.”

Dawes said the project was a collaboration that he hopes will lead to greater awareness and response to HIV AIDS.

“Ultimately, poetry has given us a way to tell stories in strikingly new ways,” he said. “The music of Kevin Simmonds, the photography of Josh Cogan, the genius design work of Bluecadet Interactive and the dogged and inspired producing of Jon Sawyer and Nathalie Applewhite at the Pulitzer Center along with the team of hardworking folks form this amazing team. This is exciting, very exciting. At the end of the day, the hope is that the inertia about HIV AIDS and its impact on the world will be challenged by this and other such projects.”

Dawes was nominated for an Emmy in the category of New Approaches to News & Documentary Programming: Arts, Lifestyle & Culture, along with executive producer Jon Sawyer, co-producers Nathalie Applewhite and Stephen Sapienza, videojournalist Doug Gritzmacher, photojournalist Joshua Cogan, and interactive producer Josh Goldblum.

The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences sponsors the Emmy Awards. The ceremonies will be broadcast on C-SPAN2 at 8:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12. For more information about the Emmy Awards and winners, visit – http:/

While in New York City, Dawes is participating in panel discussions on innovative approaches to journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and on HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

In August, Dawes performed poems from “Hope,” set to music by composer Kevin Simmonds, at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C. The “Hope” project was made possible through the support of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in association with The Virginia Quarterly Review, Azimuth Media and bluecadet interactive. To view the Web site, go to

Dawes, a professor of English, joined the University of South Carolina’s faculty in 1995. He previously taught at the university’s Sumter campus and the University of New Brunswick in Canada. In addition to his role as distinguished poet-in-residence at the University of South Carolina, Dawes is executive director of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative and the University of South Carolina Arts Institute.

Kwame Dawes

  • Who: Distinguished poet-in-residence, director of Arts Institute and Louise Fry Scudder Professor of English
  • What: News & Documentary Emmy Award, for Web-based project, “Hope: Living & Loving with HIV in Jamaica.”

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 09/22/09 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 09/30/09 @ 4:35 PM | Permalink