Kofi Awoonor (AH-wew-nohr) is an accomplished writer in a range of genres. He has shown a lifelong interest in the oral poetry of his Ewe-speaking Anlo people and acted as translator of this culture’s oral history and literature. His best-known work in this vein is his translation of three modern Ewe poets in Guardians of the Sacred Word: Ewe Poetry (1974). He is well known as a political essayist, a role reflected in his larger nonfiction titles, which include The Breast of the Earth: A Survey of the History, Culture, and Literature of Africa South of the Sahara (1975), The Ghana Revolution: Background Account from a Personal Perspective (1984), and Africa, the Marginalized Continent (1994). He is also a capable fiction writer, with works that include This Earth, My Brother (1971) and Comes the Voyager at Last: A Tale of Return to Africa (1992).
Kofi Awoonor has been honored with several awards and fellowships. He held Rockefeller, Longmans, and Fairfield Fellowships and won the University of Ghana’s Gurrey Prize for creative writing in 1959 and for poetry in 1979, the National Book Council award for poetry in 1979, the 1988 Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the African region, and numerous other honors, including the Columbia University Translation Award, Brazil’s Cruzeiro do Sol, and the Ghana Association of Writers Distinguished Author Award.
Awoonor, Kofi. “African Literature: The Common Tongue—A Conversation with Kofi Awoonor.” Interview by John Goldblatt. Transition 75/76 (1997): 358. Awoonor explores the roots and commonalities in African literature.
_______. “Kofi Awoonor.” Interview. In Palaver: Interviews with Five African Writers in Texas, edited by Bernth Lindfors. Austin: African and Afro-American Research Institute, University of Texas, 1972. Awoonor discusses the phases of his poetic development, as well as other topics.
_______. “Kofi Awoonor: In Person.” Interview. In In Person: Achebe, Awoonor, and Soyinka at the University of Washington, edited by Karen L. Morrell. Seattle: African Studies Program, Institute for Comparative and Foreign Area Studies, University of Washington, 1975. Awoonor discusses his work, his life, and African poetry.
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