Sign up to win prizes and for exclusive updates about this year’s festival

April 4-6, 2025

Word of South

Kweku Abimbola

Born in the Gambia, Kweku Abimbola earned his MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. He is of Gambian, Ghanaian, Nigerian, and Sierra Leonean descent.

Abimbola’s first full-length poetry collection, Saltwater Demands a Psalm, was published by Graywolf Press in 2023. In 2022, the début collection was selected by Tyehimba Jess to receive the Academy of American Poets’ First Book Award. His work has received the “Indie Next Award” from the Association of American Booksellers. Most recently, Saltwater was awarded the Nossrat Yassini First Book Award, selected by Camille Dungy.

He has worked as a teaching artist for the literary nonprofit Inside Out Literary Arts and lectured in English and Creative Writing at the University of Michigan. Abimbola is presently a Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Tampa. He began writing after many nights spent listening to the folktales his grandfather told of life in Gambia and Sierra Leone. His work strives to recreate the intimacy and urgency of West African oral poetry. He’ll be appearing at Word of South as part of our panel of Florida Book Award fiction and poetry winners.