Canadian-Jamaican Lorna Goodison to receive Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry

Goodison is both the first Canadian and first Jamaican poet to win this prize.
Lorna Goodison served as Jamaica's Poet Laureate from 2017-2020. (ZG Communications)

Canadian-Jamaican poet Lorna Goodison will receive the 2019 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

The prize was established by King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of then-Poet Laureate John Masefield, and is awarded for excellence in poetry to a writer in the United Kingdom or the Commonwealth.

Goodison is both the first Canadian and the first Jamaican poet to win this prize.

Over the past 40 years, Goodison has written 14 books of poetry, including Collected Poems, and an award-winning memoir From Harvey River, which won the 2008 B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction and was a finalist for both the Trillium Book Award and the Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction. 

Her second book of poetry, I am Becoming My Mother received the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for the Americas in 1986.

"As one of a generation of Commonwealth writers whose engagement with poetry began with a need to write ourselves and our people into English Literature, I feel blessed. And as a Jamaican poet who has always felt that my ancestors too are deserving of odes and praise songs, and who did not see them in what I was given to read, I am glad that I set out to write these poems," said Goodison on receiving the award.

Goodison served as the second official poet laureate of Jamaica from 2017-2020 and is the recipient of the Yale University's Windham-Campbell Literature Prize, the Institute of Jamaica's Musgrave Gold Medal for her contributions to poetry and the Jamaican Order of Distinction. 

Current UK poet laureate Simon Armitage, who received the award in 2018, recommended Goodison for the award.

Goodison will receive the medal, presented by Queen Elizabeth II, in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace.