Welcome to King’s House for the Investiture Ceremony for the new Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Miss Olive Senior. Miss Senior succeeds Miss Lorna Goodison who was so recognized in 2017. Thank you for your service Miss Goodison.
Miss Senior follows in the footsteps of other recognized Poet Laureates Claude McKay, John Clare Ebenezer McFarlane, Thomas McDermott, and Professor the Honourable Mervyn Morris, all of whom have nobly carried the torch with their outstanding literary contributions, and have made Jamaica proud.
Miss Senior’s contribution to the literary landscape at home and globally is well-documented, as her Citation will shortly highlight. In her recent collection of Pandemic Poems :First Wave, Miss Olive Senior has shown she is in touch with life.
Jamaican poet and playwright, Geoffrey Philip, in describing this critically-acclaimed body of work says, and I quote
“In Pandemic Poems, Miss Senior captures the sense of dread that has affected us since the virus has crept into our lives. Pandemic Poems offers a much-needed respite from the deluge of data that surrounds us and provides moments to pause and, perhaps, find peace” unquote.
These poems are indeed “A book for the future, When we want to look back,” at these times.
Miss Senior will leave her legacy as a poet in these unprecedented times. A time when the protocol requires us to sanitise our hands, wear masks, social-distance and take the vaccine. I have taken the vaccine and I am continuing to follow the protocols. I encourage all Jamaicans to do so for the protection of everyone.
Much of our history, culture, and the struggles and triumphs of our forebears are captured in literary works. By interpreting and providing literary commentary on social events, our writers have recorded our history in a medium that will remain for posterity. Over the next three years, Miss Senior will be charged with creating an avenue for public involvement in the spoken arts, by stimulating the writing of poetry and improving youth appreciation for poetry.
I commend the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, and by extension its Minister the Honourable Olivia Grange, on the revival of the Poet Laureate Award as an expression of yet another avenue for the promotion of the rich culture of our people.
Miss Senior, thank you for your dedication to your craft, and we look forward to your continued contribution over the next three years.