Jamaica’s Lorna Goodison awarded Queen’s gold medal for poetry

Jamaica’s Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison (Photo: Toronto Star)

With an impressive career that spans 30 years, iconic poetess laureate Lorna Goodison has been announced as the 2019 recipient of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry on Wednesday (Dec 18).

Becoming the first-ever Jamaican to be awarded the distinction, the medal will be presented by Queen Elizabeth II herself in an audience at Buckingham Palace in 2020.

According to the Royal United Kingdom website, The Poetry Medal Committee recommended Goodison as this year’s recipient on the basis of her enviable body of work.

The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, presented by Queen Elizabeth II herself, at Buckingham Palace, London. (Photo: royal.uk)

“Lorna Goodison is Jamaica’s Poet Laureate, and during her thirty-year career has published thirteen collections of poetry, as well as a selection of short stories,” Royal.uk added.

The Gold Medal for Poetry, established by King George V in 1933, is awarded annually for excellence in poetry

‘Honoured and humbled’

In accepting the award, Goodison says she is deeply grateful and honoured.

“As one of a generation of Commonwealth writers whose engagement with poetry began with a need to write ourselves and our people into English Literature, I feel blessed,” Jamaica’s Poet Laureate continued.

Lorna Goodison’s remarks on being the 2019 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry (Photo: royal.uk)

“And as a Jamaican poet who has always felt that my ancestors too are deserving of odes and praise songs, and who did not see them in what I was given to read, I am glad that I set out to write these poems,” she explained.

“Love and justice, hope and possibility, healing and redemption are the themes I’ve always turned to, and that this enterprise has led to my being placed in the company of the memorable poets who have been awarded this medal before me is truly humbling.”

— Lorna Goodison, accepting the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry

To be nominated, a potential recipient has to be from the United Kingdom within the Commonwealth realm.

Lorna Goodison, born in Kingston in August 1972, and is one of the West Indies’ leading writers of the post-World War II generation.

Photo: National Library of Jamaica

Holder of the Order of Distinction, Commander class since 2013, Goodison currently divides her time between Jamaica and Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she teaches at the University of Michigan.

She was appointed Poet Laureate of Jamaica in 2017, succeeding Mervyn Morris.

A proud past student St. Hugh’s High, Goodison studied at the Jamaica School of Art, before going on to the Art Students League of New York.