Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Literary Arts: "Tree of Life" Brings renewal for writers

The inaugural Lignum Vitae Writing Awards were launched with an appropriately sprightly ceremony at the St Andrew parish Library (Tom Redcam), a place of which many of the event's speakers (including Investment & Commerce Minister Sharon FfolkesAbrahams) had fond memories at best.

But the Library's Main reading Room came alive with the announcement that the Jamaica Writers Society (JaWS, if you would) will be resucitating the dormant National Literary Awards, namely the Una Marson Award and Vic Reid Award for Adult Literature and the Jean D'Costa Award for Children's Literature (D'Costa being the author of the beloved Jamaican children's clasic "Sprat Morrison" among others).

The renewal is made possible thanks to the Cultural Fund of the Jamaica Copyright licensing Authority, or JAMCOPY, the official rights agency for literary works in Jamaica, which gave 1.5 million to the effort. The Marson prize carries a purse of J$500,000, whilst the Vic reid and D'Costa awards carry a purse of J$250,000 each. JaWS President Tanya Batson-Savage stated that it was the intention to expand the award categories, to take in poetry and other forms, as the presentation progresses bienially. That would have been encouraging news to the poets present, including Jamaica Poet Laureate, Prof mervyn Morris who, a it turns out, was due to launch a book project of his own, a biography of dialect champion and cultural icon Miss Lou, later that same day.

The audience, writers and otherwise also heard a timely reminder on the importance of the literary arts from guest speaker, Dr Velma Pollard, herself an award-winning poet, novelist and essayist, as well as selectiond from the works of the three writers for whom the Awards are named.

Entry is open to all Jamaican writers and the deadline for submissions is June 30, 2015, and for full details, contactthe jamaica Writers Society (JaWS) at, or on Facebook at

The awards will be presented in October 2015

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