Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani in conversation

By Harriet Staff

In his interview with Kwame Dawes for the Lannan Foundation, Chris Abani describes him as "the only one I know who can take money from a funding body to study salmon and end up writing a book about masculinity." The interview begins with a discussion of linguistic code switching-- Abani explains to the audience that in West Africa, being "jealous" of Dawes' many efforts and accomplishments means to be in awe of him, not that they are "frenemies." These points of straddling political, cultural and linguistic identities is a perfect set up for the question of belonging that arises frequently in Dawes' work: "The characteristic that's most important in writing is that I've committed myself to find home wherever I am."

Abani's introduction can be found here and the full reading and interview here.

Originally Published: February 24th, 2011