NLJ extends window for poetry competition entries

Jamaica’s Poet Laureate Lorna Goodison (Photo contributed)

Persons interested in participating in the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) Poet Laureate of Jamaica Prizes for Poetry competition are invited to submit entries by January 3, 2020.

Submissions are being accepted for any of the following: the Edward Baugh Prize for Poetry; Michael Cooke Prize for Poetry; Louise Bennett-Coverley Prize for Poetry; the Poet Laureate of Jamaica, as well as the Helen Zell/Young Writer’s Prize for Poetry.

Entries will be judged by a panel from the NLJ, led by Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Lorna Goodison.

The winners for each category, which carries a cash prize of US$1,000, will be announced during Jamaica’s World Poetry Day celebrations in March 2020.

Director of Special Programmes at the NLJ and Coordinator of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica programme, Abigail Henry, explained that the initial December 20 deadline was extended to facilitate participation by more persons.

Director of Special Programmes at the National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) and Coordinator of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica programme, Abigail Henry (left), with Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Lorna Goodison. (Photo contributed)

“We extended the deadline to give people a little extra time over the Christmas break. It is not often that we see prizes that carry such a large cash award for poetry, to foster the development of new voices of young people emerging in poetry in Jamaica. We are encouraging everybody who is eligible… and persons interested in developing their voice and a career in poetry to get their submissions in,” she said.

Henry, who described the competition as an “excellent programme”, contended that “it is not just about the prizes”.

“It is about being part of this network of young writers [for whom] we are putting together workshops and event activities geared towards developing their craft and poetic voices. We encourage everyone who is eligible to take advantage of this opportunity,” she added.

Henry further contended that since the competition’s inception three years ago, there has been an emergence of new voices in poetry.

In a bid to further nurture these talents, she said poems that were shortlisted for prizes in the competition over the years will be published in an anthology by the administrator of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica programme, the NLJ.

Copies of the publication will be distributed through the NLJ and will be available at select bookstores.

The Poet Laureate of Jamaica Prizes for Poetry competition is a collaborative initiative of the NLJ, through the office of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica, and the United States-based University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers’ program.

It aims to recognise talented young Jamaicans who are interested in pursuing a career in poetry.

Persons may contact the NLJ for submission criteria and other information at (876) 967-1526 or (876) 967-2516 or visit the website at www.nlj.gov.jm.