Lorna Goodison

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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.


Lorna Gaye Goodison was born in Kingston, Jamaica,[1] one of nine siblings, and was educated at St. Hugh's High School, a leading Anglican high school in Jamaica and the Jamaica School of Art, before going to New York to study at the Art Students League. 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".[3]

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 twelve 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). She 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). Goodison's memoir, From Harvey River, was published in 2008.

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

On 6 August 2013, she was awarded the Jamaican national honour of the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commanded (CD), "for outstanding achievements in Literature and Poetry".[4][5]




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. ^ Interview with The Guardian, quoted in the introduction to her 1986 collection of poetry, I Am Becoming My Mother.
  4. ^ National Honours and Awards, Office of the Prime Minister.
  5. ^ "The Arts Play Big Part In This Year's National Honour", The Gleaner, 7 August 2013.
  6. ^ "Top three for OCM Bocas Prize named". T&T Guardian. 31 March 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2014. 

External links[edit]