Jamaican Government Says It Will Pay More For Poets To Get Busts.

Photo courtesy of poemanalysis.com. Mervyn Morris, born 1937, a former poet laureate of Jamaica.
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The Jamaican Government will be allocating additional funds to the Poet Laureate of Jamaica Programme according to an announcement by Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, and relayed to the public in a speech delivered by library chief Joy Douglas, at a recent launch of ‘Last Reel’, a new poetry collection by Poet Laureate (2014-2017), Professor Mervyn Morris.

The event, held at the NLJ, East Street, in downtown Kingston, included the unveiling of a bust of Professor Emeritus Mervyn Morris.

Morris has published several volumes of poetry, and has edited the works of other Caribbean writers.

His collections include The Pond (revised edition, New Beacon Books, 1997), Shadowboxing (New Beacon Books, 1979), Examination Centre (New Beacon Books, 1992) and On Holy Week (a sequence of poems for radio, Dangaroo Press, 1993). He also edited The Faber Book of Contemporary Caribbean Short Stories and published “Is English We Speaking”, and other essays. In 2006,  he published his I been there, sort of: New and Selected Poems.

Last Reel was published by Ian Randle Publishers, while the sculpture was done by Jamaican artist Kay Sullivan.

Minister Grange pointed out that a ‘Cabinet note’ has been prepared to begin the process.

“Efforts are under way to further institutionalise the Poet Laureate of Jamaica Programme, ensuring its place in the annual government’s expenditure budget through amendments of the National Library of Jamaica Act,” she said.

Ms. Grange noted that with increased investment, “Laureates such as Professor Morris, Ms. Lorna Goodison and Ms. Olive Senior and future appointees like Professor Kwame Dawes, will receive the support they need to elevate Jamaican literature, both at home and abroad.”

She said that the NLJ, the Institute of Jamaica, the Jamaica Music Museum, the National Gallery of Jamaica and other institutions should be “an integral part of the attraction that is Kingston City”.

“The unveiling of this bust of Professor Mervyn Morris signifies not only an elevation of cultural consciousness, but also enhances our tourism and research offerings to the world,” the Minister said.

In her remarks, Ms. Douglas said that busts will be created to commemorate past and future Laureates.

“We do believe that it is important for societies to permanently lionise persons we have selected as exemplifying the best of us. So, it will continue,” she added.

The NLJ is celebrating 10 years of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica Programmme. Each Poet Laureate is given a three-year tenure to develop and execute a programme of activities that support the reading, writing and promotion of Jamaican poetry.

Source: Jamaican Government Information Service.
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