Patricia Powell

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Patricia Powell (born 1966) is a Jamaican writer.


Born in Jamaica, she moved to the United States in her late teens. She received her bachelor's degree at Wellesley College, and an MFA in creative writing from Brown University, where she studied with Michael Ondaatje, among others.

She began her teaching career in 1991 in the English Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston. In 2001, Powell was the Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard University.[1] In 2003, she was announced as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at MIT.[2]

Most of her work is not autobiographical, but explores personal themes of rejection, displacement, and healing through the lives of highly varied characters, ranging from a gay Jamaican man dying of AIDS,[3] to a cross-dressing Chinese woman immigrant to Jamaica,[4] to Nanny, a heroine of Jamaican independence.[5]

Literary awards[edit]

  • Pen New England Discovery Award,
  • Bruce Rossley Literary Award,
  • Ferro-Grumley Award for fiction,
  • Lila Wallace Readers Digest Writers Award,
  • YWCA Tribute to Outstanding Women Award.



  1. ^ (accessed 17 Jan 2009)
  2. ^ Massachusetts Institute of Technology News Office "Art Talk" (accessed 17 Jan 2009)
  3. ^ Chin, Timothy. "The Novels of Patricia Powell: Negotiating Gender and Sexuality Across the Disjunctures of the Caribbean Diaspora" in Callaloo - Volume 30, Number 2, Spring 2007, pp. 533-45.
  4. ^ "Diasporic Imagination of the Grocery Shop in Patricia Powell’s The Pagoda," by Lee Tsui-yu (Jade), National Kaohsiung Normal University. (website accessed 17 January 2009).
  5. ^ Mundo de Mujeres/Women's Worlds 2008, La literatura como fuerza politica/Literature as a political force, video by Universidad Complutense Madrid, recorded 7 July 2008. Powell read her paper on "Writing to Heal Ourselves and Each Other."