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Lorna Goodison Awarded Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry

Thursday, 19 Dec 2019

Lorna Goodison reading We are overjoyed to share the news that Lorna Goodison, Jamaica's poet laureate and a dear Carcanet author, has been selected as the recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2019. Lorna will be presented with the medal by The Queen in an Audience at Buckingham Palace in 2020.

The Gold Medal for Poetry was established by King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield, and is awarded for excellence in poetry. Each year’s recipient is from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth Realm.

The Poetry Medal Committee recommended Lorna Goodison as this year's recipient on the basis of her body of work. The committee is chaired by the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, who received The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry for 2018.

On receiving the award, Lorna said:

“I am honoured and deeply grateful. As one of a generation of Commonwealth writers whose engagement with poetry began with a need to write ourselves and our people into English Literature, I feel blessed. And as a Jamaican poet who has always felt that my ancestors too are deserving of odes and praise songs, and who did not see them in what I was given to read, I am glad that I set out to write these poems.

“Love and justice, hope and possibility, healing and redemption are the themes I've always turned to, and that this enterprise has led to my being placed in the company of the memorable poets who have been awarded this medal before me is truly humbling.”

The Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, said:

“From the appearance of Tamarind Season in 1980, to the publication of Collected Poems in 2018, Lorna Goodison has continued to produce work of unique quality and character, allowing her poetry to evolve and develop in response to changes of circumstance and surrounding but always with her native Jamaica at its core. Jamaica is present in her lyrical voice, especially in her spiritual and incantatory poems where her gift for linguistic musicality comes to the fore. And Jamaica is present in her subjects: in the mountains, animals, recipes and natural history of her home island, and in the friends, neighbours and relatives who populate her work from start to finish, those kith and kin who have been the cast and chorus of her life’s work.

“As Jamaica’s current Poet Laureate, and through the many literary honours she has received, Lorna Goodison has come to be recognised as a hugely significant and influential contemporary author both at home and internationally. Through poems rooted in her Caribbean heritage and upbringing she has created a body of enchanting, intelligent and socially aware poetry in the authentic registers of her own tongue.”

Read more on the Royal Family's website here.

Cover image of Collected Poems by Lorna Goodison 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 thirteen 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 Poet Laureate of Jamaica on 17 May 2017 and will serve until 2020.

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