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Lorna Goodison was born in Jamaica, and has won numerous awards for her writing in both poetry and prose, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the Musgrave Gold Medal from Jamaica, the Henry Russel Award for Exceptional Creative Work from the University of Michigan, and one of Canada’s largest literary prizes, the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction for From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her People (2007). Her work has been included in the major anthologies and collections of contemporary poetry over the past twenty-five years, such as the Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, the HarperCollins World Reader, the Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry, the Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, and Longman Masters of British Literature.
Along with her award winning memoir, she has published three collections of short stories (including By Love Possessed, 2011) and nine collections of poetry.
Her work has been translated into many languages, and she has been a central figure at literary festivals throughout the world. Lorna Goodison teaches at the University of Michigan, where she is the Lemuel A. Johnson Professor of English and African and Afroamerican Studies.
Lorna Goodison was appointed PoetLaureate of Jamaica on 17 May 2017 and will serve until 2020.
Lorna Goodison was born in Jamaica, and is now a major figure in world literature. She has many awards for her writing in both poetry and prose, including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Americas Region), the Musgrave Gold Medal and the Order of Distinction from Jamaica, and the Henry Russel Award for Exceptional Creative Work from the University of Michigan. Most recently, she received one of Canada’s largest literary prizes, the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction for From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her People. Her work has been included in the major anthologies and collections of contemporary poetry published in the United States, Europe and the West Indies over the past fifteen years, including the Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry (2003) as well as the HarperCollins World Reader, the Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry, the Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, and Longman Masters of British Literature (2006). Her work has also been translated into many languages, and published widely in magazines from the Hudson Review to MS Magazine. Her paintings have been exhibited throughout the Americas and in Europe.
She has published three collections of short stories: Baby Mother and the King of Swords (Longman,1990); Fool-Fool Rose is Leaving Labour-in-Vain Savannah (Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2005); and By Love Possessed (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2011; New York; Harper Collins/Amistad, 2012) with French translation Sous l’emprise de l’amour (Carouge-Geneve: Zoe, 2013).
From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and her People, was published in Canada by McClelland and Stewart in 2007, in the United States by Harper Collins/Amistad, and in the United Kingdom by Atlantic Books.
Her books of poetry include Tamarind Season (Kingston: Institute of Jamaica,1980), I Am Becoming My Mother (London: New Beacon, 1986), Heartease (London: New Beacon, 1988), Selected Poems (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992), To Us, All Flowers Are Roses (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1995), Turn Thanks (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1999), Guinea Woman: New and Selected Poems (Manchester: Carcanet, 2000), Travelling Mercies (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2001), Controlling the Silver (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2005), Goldengrove: New and Selected Poems (Manchester: Carcanet, 2006). Her most recent book of poetry is Supplying Salt and Light (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 2013) and (British edition, with additional poems) Oracabessa (Manchester: Carcanet, 2013)
She has been a central figure at festivals such as Poetry International at the South Bank Centre in London, England; the Harbourfront International Poetry Festival in Toronto; the Poetry Africa Festival in Durban, South Africa; the National Black Writers Conference in New York; the House of World Culture in Berlin and the Interlit International Conference in Erlanger, Germany; Poetry International in Rotterdam; the International Congress on the Caribbean in Madrid; the Cuirt Literary Festival in Galway; the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival in England, and in 2012 she was Patron of the Yardstick Festival in Bristol (U.K.) and Festival Laureate at the Durham Book Festival, in Durham (U.K.); and in the past several years, she has given readings at Cambridge University and the Sorbonne, Paris; delivered the Dame Nita Barrow Memorial Lecture at the University of the West Indies and the Frank Collymore Lecture in Barbados; and was a featured poet in a celebration of Fifty Years of Poetry at Radcliffe in Harvard University. She has also read at schools, cultural centres, hospitals--in rural as well as urban communities--throughout the world.
Lorna Goodison has taught at the University of Toronto, as well as at the University of Miami Caribbean Summer Institute, the University of the West Indies Caribbean Writers Program, the Sitka Summer Institute in Alaska. She has also conducted special workshops in the United States, Canada, Europe and the West Indies. She and her husband Ted Chamberlin have their home in Halfmoon Bay, British Columbia; and she is Professor Emerita in the Department of English and the Centre for African and Afroamerican Studies at the University of Michigan.
'The humble and humbling quality of Goodison's poems has been bedded in a sorrow that is also an exuberance, as if neither can survive without the other. When she uses a striking metaphor, it seems just to have occurred to her, driven by deftness of perception rather than the pressure and labor of invention... Goodison's poems display what we should always look for, a new way of looking at the world. And a fresh way of speaking it.'
William Logan, The New Criterion
'Goodison sheds light on how sharing stories helps us make sense of our world while illuminating the under-explored multitudes that shape it.'
Robyn Fadden, Montreal Review of Books
'Her female characters spring from the page, speaking in perfect pitch'
Martina Evans, Irish Times Books of the Year 2021
'...a major voice in Caribbean poetry'
Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian Review Roundup
'A passionate, political collection... Goodison speaks out for future generations'
The Poetry Book Society Summer Bulletin
'A Caribbean and international great.'
Jeremy Poynting, Managing Editor of Peepal Tree Press, Guardian Best Books of 2017
'There's so much from the outside that can come between you and that place from which real poems are born. That requires being awake. You should be conscious of what works for you and what is going into your work.'
Lorna Goodison talking to Ian McMillan on Radio 3's The Verb, 15th December 2017
'The collected works of the recently appointed Jamaican poet laureate is an endlessly moving and rewarding...Four decades of insight and honesty are gathered in some 600 pages of rich, often fabular verse' Financial Times on Collected Poems
Awards won by Lorna Goodison Short-listed, 2022 The Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry
(Mother Muse) Winner, 2019 The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry Winner, 2018 Windham-Campbell Literature Prize for Poetry
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