In 1994 the worst episode of genocide since the Holocaust of the Second World War ravaged the Central African country of Rwanda. Derick Burleson (Rwanda 1991-94) taught at the National University during the two years leading up to the genocide. The poems in this collection entitled Ejo were published in 2000 by the University of Wisconsin Press. The poems explore the cataclysm in a variety of forms and voices through the culture, myths, and customs Derick absorbed during this time. “Ejo,” meaning “yesterday and tomorrow” in Kinyarwandan. .
In 2000, Derick won the University of Wisconsin Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. This awarded is given annually to the best book-length manuscript of original poetry submitted in an open competition. The award is administered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison English department, and the winner is chosen by a nationally recognized poet.