UWI DEPARTMENT OF LITERATURES IN ENGLISH HELPS TO SHOWCASE THE BEST IN JAMAICAN WRITING
Kingston, June 15, 2015
The Department of Literatures in English (DLIE) at The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, continues to expand its influence on platforms where the languages that are spoken in Jamaica - English and Jamaican - flourish and are celebrated. Its most recent collaboration was the 4th staging of the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta on May 23, 2015 where the appearance of internationally acclaimed Jamaican poet and author, Lorna Goodison, was facilitated by the DLIE. She is one of Jamaica's leading poets who is a much sought-after speaker and presenter at universities around the world.
Head of the Department, Dr Michael Bucknor, noted that the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta was the latest in a series of meaningful collaborations.“As a university, we want to be a part of providing a platform where excellence in Literature can be celebrated”, he said.
Literature has long been considered to be a foundation for visionary leadership, and the DLIE has recently introduced several initiatives that are designed to attract more students to pursue studies in literature. These include the expansion of its programmes to include orature [oral literature] and writing for screen and stage.
The 2015 staging of the Two Seasons Talking Trees Literary Fiesta showcased the writing of 15 Jamaicans across several genres, and included the best in contemporary writing from established writers who are or have been connected with the DLIE. These included Poet Laureate Mervyn Morris, Professor Emeritus Eddie Baugh, editor and creative writer, Victor Chang, and contemporary poet and lecturer, Tanya Shirley. DLIE's Poetry Clash winner, Peta Gaye Williams, also appeared.
In his opening remarks at the Fiesta, Dr Bucknor said, “We are happy to bring to the festival none other than our beloved Lorna Goodison and to facilitate so many who have had association with our department. One of our partners this year is The Gloria Lyn Memorial Fund, that was established last year in honour of a former lecturer in the department to further raise the visibility of literature by recognising students who have excelled in literature at Mona.” Roma Richardson, the first recipient of the Gloria Lyn Prize read an excerpt of Mrs. Lyn's piece, 'Memories from a Jamaican Village', published in Ray Chen's book, The Shopkeepers.
The Two Seasons Talking Trees lineup also included performance poet Cherry Natural, actress and storyteller Amina Blackwood Meeks and poet Easton Lee. Novelists included Sharon Leach, Carol Dunn and authors for young adults, Mandisa Parnell and Gwyneth Harold Davidson. The new genre of blogging was represented by Annie Paul, writer and critic, who is head of the Publications Section at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies, The UWI, Mona. Patrons were also treated to the restaging of the 10 minute play, Devon, written and directed by Fabian Thomas, who was MC for the day.
The DLIE has energised its support of publications by established creative writers of excellence through hosting several book launches, and engaged noted novelist, Erna Brodber, in its writer-in-residence programme.
The department intends to be a catalyst to inspire the youth, and encourage today’s greatest thinkers in the region, and foster a steady output of literature that will enrich the environment and promote moral and creative leadership in both the public and private sectors.
The 2015 Fiesta, which was endorsed by the Jamaica Tourist Board, was held in Treasure Beach, on the grounds of Two Seasons Guest House, which was the major sponsor. Other corporate sponsors were Jamaica National, Jamcopy, and Treasure Beach Hotel.
The festival is expected to return in 2016. Stay tuned!-30-