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Goodison seeks young poets

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

POET Laureate Lorna Goodison is spearheading an initiative to improve the level of poetry writing among Jamaica's young people.

In conjunction with the National Library of Jamaica and the Helen Zell Writer's Program at the University of Michigan in the United States, Goodison has launched a young writer's prize for poetry, which will see the winner copping US$1,000 as well as an invitation to participate in an awards ceremony to be held on March 21, which is observed as World Poetry Day.

“I would not say that it is a part of my mandate, but I do want to encourage gifted Jamaicans who might want to pursue careers as practising poets,” Goodison told the Jamaica Observer.

“Young writers invariably need help and encouragement, and they can always benefit from having their work appraised by writers who are more experienced. The chance to win US$1,000 for a portfolio of three to six poems should appeal to any writer, young or old,” she continued.

Goodison is the first female to be named poet laureate. She was invested at King's House in St Andrew in May of this year and will serve a three-year term ending in 2020. She is the second nationally appointed poet laureate, following Professor Emeritus Mervyn Morris, of The University of the West Indies, who was named in 2014.

“The Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan is by far one of the most prestigious Master of Fine Arts programmes in the USA. I taught in that programme for many years, and I could not be happier that they have agreed to partner to with the National Library to sponsor this prize,” she said.

Upon her appointment Goodison noted Jamaica's young people would be one of her target groups, and this project targets this section of her audience.

“I think that there is some really interesting writing being done in Jamaica right now. This prize will provide a chance for some rigorous and entirely objective feedback for serious writers,” Goodison added.