Lorna Goodison

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Lorna Goodison
Born (1947-08-01) 1 August 1947 (age 69)
Kingston, Jamaica
Occupation Poet
Nationality Jamaican

Lorna Goodison CD (born 1 August 1947)[1] 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. 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".[2] 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."[3] Also a painter, Goodison has illustrated her own book covers, as well as exhibiting her artwork in Jamaica and the US.[4]


Lorna Gaye Goodison was born in Kingston, Jamaica,[1] one of nine siblings. 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.[5] 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".[6]

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 12 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) and Oracabessa (2013). Oracabessa won the Poetry category of the 2014 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.[7]

Goodison has also published two collections of short stories, Baby Mother and the King of Swords (1990) and Fool-Fool Rose Is Leaving Labour-in-Vain Savannah (2005). 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.[8]

She has exhibited her paintings internationally, and her own artwork is usually featured on the covers of her books.[4]

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".[9][10]




Short stories[edit]


  • From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island (Atlantic Books, 2009, ISBN 978-1843549956)


  1. ^ a b Deborah A. Ring, "Goodison, Lorna." Contemporary Black Biography. 2009. Encyclopedia.com. 11 September 2013.
  2. ^ Edward Baugh, "Making Life", Caribbean Review of Books, February 2006.
  3. ^ Kei Miller: "An Appreciation of Lorna Goodison", Carcanet Press, 15 November 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Goodison, Lorna", Encyclopedia.com.
  5. ^ "Lorna Goodison", Poetry Foundation.
  6. ^ Interview with The Guardian, quoted in the introduction to her 1986 collection of poetry, I Am Becoming My Mother.
  7. ^ "Three Writers Join The Shortlist For The 2014 OCM Bocas Prize", Bocas News, NGC Bocas Lit Fest, 30 March 2014.
  8. ^ "From Harvey River", Book of the Week, BBC Radio 4, 5 May 2009.
  9. ^ National Honours and Awards, Office of the Prime Minister.
  10. ^ "The Arts Play Big Part In This Year's National Honour", The Gleaner, 7 August 2013.
  11. ^ "Top three for OCM Bocas Prize named". T&T Guardian. 31 March 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 

External links[edit]