Jamaica Observer / This Wednesday, March 21, is being observed as World Poetry Day. Here in Jamaica, Poet Laureate of Jamaica Lorna Goodison, fresh off the heels of her recent win of the Windham-Campbell Prize for poetry, will use the day to announce the winner of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica and Helen Zell Young Writers Prize for Poetry at The Knutsford Court Hotel in St Andrew.
The cash prize of US$1,000 is funded by the Helen Zell Writer’s Program at the University of Michigan to recognise talented young Jamaicans with an interest in pursuing a career in poetry. The competition received over 340 submissions from young Jamaicans living at home and abroad, with each applicant asked to submit a portfolio of three to six poems.
The shortlisted candidates for the prize are Jovanté Anderson, Khadijah Chin, Lauren Delapenha, and Britney Gabbidon.
Giving emphasis to ‘new voices’ in Jamaican poetry, shortlisted candidates will be invited to read selections of their work during the programme.
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen officially declared a national poetry day through the efforts of the Poet Laureate of Jamaica programme. The celebration falls under the broader umbrella of World Poetry Day coordinated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
Wednesday’s event will begin with an international poetry reading segment featuring members from the diplomatic corps and international community who will share celebrated works.
In addition to this event, schools across the island have been invited to participate by reciting a poem of their own choosing during their morning devotions.
World Poetry Day was conceived as a way to recognise the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind; promote the reading, writing, and teaching of poetry; and to give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional, and international poetry movements. These objectives are in keeping with the mandate of the National Library of Jamaica.
Jamaica joins the ranks of countries such as New Zealand, Ireland, and the United States of America to officially celebrate World Poetry Day.