FOR lovers of poetry, one highlight of the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest will be Lorna Goodison, Poet Laureate of Jamaica and one of the Caribbean’s most beloved contemporary writers.
Goodison takes part in several events during the festival from April 25-29 at the National Library in Port of Spain and other venues. She is also the chief judge of the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize.
Born in Jamaica in 1947, Goodison divides her time between her home island and Canada. Though best known for her poetry – definitively assembled in her 600-page Collected Poems, published in 2017 – she has also published two books of fiction, and an award-winning family memoir, From Harvey River. In 2014, Goodison’s previous poetry collection Oracabessa was named the winner of the OCM Bocas Prize in that year’s poetry category.
Last month she won a 2018 Windham Campbell Prize of US$165,000, bestowed by Yale University’s Beinecke Library, the latest in a string of honours which have recognised Goodison’s literary achievements in past decades. Her prize citation quotes Derek Walcott’s description of Goodison’s work as possessing that “rare quality that has gone out of poetry... joy.” The citation continues: “Often intensely metaphysical, even theological, her poems are at the same time deeply rooted in the particularities of time and place. She writes of her mother’s long hours at the sewing machine, of family meals, of funerals and weddings, punctuating her verse with folk songs, hymns, recipes, and family lore.”
Her headline event at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest will be a one-on-one with writer and critic Funso Aiyejina on April 27, running from 11 am to 12 pm at the Old Fire Station adjacent to the National Library on Abercromby Street. Interspersed with readings from her poems, the conversation will range over Goodison’s life and work and her relationship with her home island, from near and far. Goodison will also join a Bocas panel on April 26, from 1 pm to 2.30 pm in the Old Fire Station, discussing the value of writers’ archives with fellow authors Kei Miller and Sharon Millar and scholars Alison Donnell and Evelyn O’Callaghan.
These and almost all other events at the NGC Bocas Lit Fest are free and open to all.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our local audience to encounter one of the finest poets currently working in the English language,” say Bocas organisers. “Lorna Goodison appears at sold-out events at festivals around the world, and is in high demand. We are lucky to have her back at the 2018 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, alongside fellow Caribbean Windham Campbell Prizewinners André Alexis and Erna Brodber.”
More information about these events, and the full festival programme, are available at www.bocaslitfest.com.