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From Harvey River to Halfmoon Bay

December 19th, 2019

Lorna Goodison, of Halfmoon Bay, B.C. (there is a Halfmoon Bay in Jamaica as well) has won the annual Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, originally established in 1933 for citizens of the UK and then expanded in 1985 to include the Commonwealth. The award is to be presented to Lorna Goodison by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in the spring of 2020.

Goodison, who was born in Jamaica, is the first Jamaican, and also the first Canadian (as she lives part of the year in B.C.), to receive this award.

In 2017, Goodison was installed as Poet Laureate of Jamaica for a three-year term during a ceremony at King’s House in St. Andrew, Jamaica. According to the National Library of Jamaica, Goodison was selected by a secret ballot vote conducted by the Poet Laureate Committee.

Goodison has won other awards. In 2018, the director of the Windham-Campbell Prizes made the call of a lifetime to eight entirely surprised writers, informing them that they would each be recognized with a $165,000 USD prize to support their writing–and Lorna Goodison was one of those writers. The awards, worth more than $1 million annually, are conferred each September at an international literary festival at Yale, where the Prizes are based. These literary awards were established in 2013 with a gift from the late Donald Windham in memory of his partner of 40 years, Sandy M. Campbell.

Lorna Goodison is the author of two collections of short stories, eight books of poetry, and the award-winning memoir From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her People ( Emblem Editions 2009). She has received much international recognition, including the Musgrave Gold Medal.

Goodison has taught at the University of Toronto and the University of Michigan. She divides her time between Ann Arbor, Toronto, and Halfmoon Bay, B.C. where she resides with her husband Ted Chamberlin. Her 2011 story collection is: By Love Possessed (M&S $28.99)

Lorna Goodison, Wayde Comptom and Tanya Evanson are among 90 contributors to the first national anthology to focus solely on poetry by African Canadians, Great Black North: Contemporary African Canadian Poetry ($21.95), edited by Valerie Mason-John and Kevan Anthony Cameron, and launched during Black History Month in February of 2012.

978-0-7710-3411-4 (From Harvey River)
978-0-7710-3577-7 (By Love Possessed)

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