Jamaican Poets by Shermaine Anderson-Gayle Posted: 11/22/09
The saying "we likkle but we tallawah" can be applied to many aspects of
Jamaican life, not the least of which is Jamaica’s contribution to
Worldwide, Jamaica is known for its many talents
and poetry is do different. Our poets helps to preserve our rich
heritage. They are the voice of our island’s culture at home and abroad.
They have contributed greatly in the area of education, both locally and internationally. Many have received numerous awards and honours.Some of the most revered Jamaican poets
Oliver Senior, and the
list goes on.
The following are brief biographies of a selected few, highlighting their achievements and accomplishments:
Edward Alston Cecil Baugh ...
was born in Port Antonio Jamaica and began his writing at Titchfield
High School. Baugh’s studied both locally and abroad where he earned his
Ph. D in 1964.
He taught at the University of the West Indies
Cave Hill Campus, from 1965-1967, then at the University of Mona Campus
from 1968-2001, after which he was appointed professor of English in
1978 and public orator in 1985.
appeared in various magazines and anthologies years before the
publication of his first collection, A Tale from the Rainforest (1988)
which was followed by It was the Singing (2000).
publications were even used for educational purposes in schools. Baugh’s
scholarly publications include: West Indian Poetry (1900-1970) and A
Study in Cultural Decolonization in 1971.
Louis Bennett-Coverly, OM, OJ, MBE ... was known worldwide as "Miss Lou". Miss
Lou was a celebrated and much loved Jamaican folklorist, writer and
artiste. Miss Lou appeared in leading humorous roles in several Jamaican
Pantomimes and television shows.
She travelled both locally
internationally promoting the culture of Jamaica. In 1974, she was
appointed the Order of Jamaica. Miss Lou's poems, by the way, are some
of my favourite Jamaican poems.
Jamaica’s Independence Day 2001, the Honourable Miss Louise
Bennett-Coverly was appointed as a member of the Jamaican Order of Merit
for her invaluable and distinguished contribution to the development of
the Arts and Culture.
Her poems were written in the Jamaican language
known as patois (pronounced patwa) or creole, thus earning its
recognition as a language and influencing other writers to do similar
Jean "Binta" Breeze ...
is a Jamaican dub poet and story teller. Her first book of poetry,
"Ryddim Ravings", was published in 1988. She wrote screen plays,
released several albums and recorded several tracks.
She suffers from
schizophrenia and has written poetry about what she calls "madness". In
2006 on a BBC interview she gave her perspective on mental illness and
advocated increased attention to the needs of schizophrenics who do not
have a talent like hers.
Lorna Goodison ... is one of the leading West Indian
writer. She began writing poetry since her teenage years and has
published 11 collection of poems such as Tamarind Season (1980),
Heartease (1988) and trevelling Mercies (2001).
In 1999 Goddison was
awarded the Musgrave Gold Medal by the Institute of Jamaica for her contribution to Literature.
Arthur Lemiere Hendricks ... was well known for his contributions to the Christian Science Monitor and as a columnist and literary critic in The Daily
Gleaner (one of Jamaica’s leading newspaper) and BIM (Barbadian
Some of his works include: The Green Islands and
other Poems (1971), To speak simply: Selected Poems (1961-1986).