|Born||Lorna Gaye Goodison|
1 August 1947
|Notable awards|| Musgrave Gold Medal, 1999|
Order of Distinction, 2013
OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry, 2014
Poet Laureate of Jamaica, 2017
Windham–Campbell Literature Prize, 2018
Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, 2019
Lorna Goodison CD (born 1 August 1947)is a Jamaican poet, a leading West Indian writer of the generation born after World War II, currently dividing her time between Jamaica and Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she teaches at the University of Michigan. She was appointed Poet Laureate of Jamaica in 2017, succeeding Mervyn Morris. In 2019 she was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
Poet and literary scholar Edward Baugh says: "one of Goodison’s achievements is that her poetry inscribes the Jamaican sensibility and culture on the text of the world".Apart from issues of home and exile, her work also addresses the power of art to explore and reconcile opposites and contradictions in the Caribbean historical experience. Kei Miller notes, "Primarily a poet, Goodison hasn’t been afraid of crossing the fence into other genres: she has written short stories and a much-celebrated memoir. ...I suspect she still isn't as celebrated as she really ought to be because there simply doesn’t exist the perfect critical language to talk about what she is doing, the risks she is taking, and why exactly they succeed."
Also a painter, Goodison has illustrated her own book covers, as well as exhibiting her artwork in the Caribbean, the US and Europe.
Lorna Gaye Goodison was born in Kingston, Jamaica,one of nine siblings (who include the award-winning journalist Barbara Gloudon). She was educated at St. Hugh's High School, a leading Anglican high school in Jamaica, and studied at the Jamaica School of Art, before going on to the Art Students League of New York. As well as painting, she had also been writing poetry since her teenage years; some early poems appeared anonymously in the Jamaica Gleaner . Goodison has described poetry as "a dominating, intrusive tyrant. It's something I have to do — a wicked force". She has also acknowledged: "A lot of what I learned about creative writing is owed to Derek Walcott, so I learned from the best."
In her twenties, back in Jamaica, she taught art and worked in advertising and public relations before deciding to pursue a career as a professional writer. She began to publish under her own name in the Jamaica Journal , and to give readings at which she built up an appreciative audience.
In the early 1990s, Goodison began teaching part of the year at various North American universities, including the University of Toronto and the University of Michigan.
She has published 13 collections of poems: Tamarind Season (1980), I Am Becoming My Mother (1986), Heartease (1988), Poems (1989), Selected Poems (1992), To Us, All Flowers Are Roses (1995), Turn Thanks (1999), Guinea Woman (2000), Travelling Mercies (2001), Controlling the Silver (2005), Goldengrove (2006), Oracabessa (2013) and Supplying Salt and Light (2013). Oracabessa won the Poetry category of the 2014 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.
Goodison has also published three collections of short stories, Baby Mother and the King of Swords (1990), Fool-Fool Rose Is Leaving Labour-in-Vain Savannah (2005), and By Love Possessed (2012).Her memoir, From Harvey River, was published in 2008, and was featured on BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week in May 2009, read by Doña Croll. Goodison's first collection of essays, Redemption Ground: Essays and Adventures, was published in 2018 by Myriad Editions.
Her work has appeared widely in magazines, has been translated into many languages and over the past 25 years has been included in such major anthologies as Daughters of Africa (1992), Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry (2003), the HarperCollins World Reader, the Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry, the Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, and Longman Masters of British Literature (2006).
She has exhibited her paintings internationally, and her own artwork is usually featured on the covers of her books.
Since 2017 Goodison has worked with dub poet and martial arts trainer Cherry Natural (born Marcia Wedderburn) to host a series of summer workshops pairing poetry and self-defence for girls aged from nine to 17, held at the Institute of Jamaica.
On 6 August 2013, she was awarded the Jamaican national honour of the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander (CD), "for outstanding achievements in Literature and Poetry".
On 17 May 2017, Goodison was invested as the second official poet laureate of Jamaica, after Mervyn Morris, becoming the first woman to hold the title.She marked her first Emancipation Day in the role with a poem "In Celebration of Emancipation", which commemorates the end of enslavement of African peoples in Jamaica. She has said: "I don't think it is an accident that I was born on the first of August, and I don't think it was an accident that I was given the gift of poetry, so I take that to mean that I am to write about those people and their condition, and I will carry a burden about what they endured and how they prevailed until the day I die."
In March 2018, Yale University announced Goodison as one of eight recipients (the others being Lucas Hnath, Suzan-Lori Parks, Sarah Bakewell, Olivia Laing, John Keene. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, and Cathy Park Hong) of a Windham–Campbell Literature Prize, honouring writers for their literary achievement or promise and awarding them each a US$165,000 individual prize to support their writing.
Goodison was announced in December 2019 as recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
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