Celebrating Jamaica’s New Poet Laureate

Jamaica has a new poet laureate. There is none more deserving  than this Munro College (a notable Jamaican secondary school) stalwart, Rhodes Scholar and UCWI graduate. You’ll never meet a more affable gentleman than our Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing & West Indian Literature, Mervyn Morris O.M. He has taught at the UWI been on staff at The UWI since the 1960s. With his new appointment, Professor Morris is charged with promoting poetry as part of the Jamaican cultural heritage.  The Jamaica Observer quotes Professor Morris, “My priority would be to find ways of putting poets in more frequent contact with the Jamaican audience. But there are elements of promoting Jamaica abroad, for instance.  That is part of what the tourism people have in mind.”

Professor Mervyn Morris, Professor Emeritusof Creative Writing & West Indian Literature and Poet Laureate of Jamaica

Professor Mervyn Morris, Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing & West Indian Literature and Poet Laureate of Jamaica

Professor Morris has long been promoting the work of poets.  In the Library of the Spoken Word (LSW) Collection–which forms part of the University Archives–are interviews by Morris, which documents the work of many notable Jamaican and regional poets, including Louise ‘Ms Lou’ Bennett-Coverley, Derek Walcott, James Berry, eminent dub poets Mutabaruka and Oku Onuora. These items, or if you may ‘audiovisual records’, break open insights and stories that unveil parts of the creative process that led to some well-known poems.  Sometimes a little more about the poets themselves may also be uncovered.

Professor Morris, despite his selfless quest to promote creative writing and poetry in the region, also produced quite a collection of his own work. As part of the Caribbean Writer’s Series, Professor Morris performs some of his creative work and discusses poetry and its space in the region. One of Professor Morris’ noted poems “On Holy Week” was dramatized for radio broadcast by early Radio Education Unit staff and other UWI luminaries. The list includes Hugh Morrison, Leonie Forbes, Alma MockYen, Noel Vaz, Noel Dexter and Edward Baugh.

Here we present Professor Morris reciting four (4) of his Poems: “For Kamau, Give Thanks”; “Toasting A Muse”; “Ground Nations for Cedric Brooks”;”Valley Prince”, excerpts from the 2002 Conference on Caribbean Culture in Celebration of Kamau Brathwaite, “The Word”.

Some other related entries from the LSW Collection are listed below

Morris, Mervyn Department of Literatures in English Book Launch: I Been There, Sort of – New and Selected Poems 2006, Dec
Morris, Mervyn; The Legacy and Legend of Miss Lou “Noh Lickle Twang” Opening Ceremony and Keynote Address, 2008,Jan Disc 2
Morris, Mervyn et al 50th Anniversary Symposium- UWI Special Event N.d.
Morris, Mervyn et al UWI’s 50 Anniversary Symposium “A View From Within” ( tape 1 of 3)- UWI Special Event 1998, Jul 22 Tape 1
Morris, Mervyn Poets of the West Indies (tape 1 of 4) – Language and Literature N.d. Tape 1
Morris, Mervyn “On Holy Week”: Lenten Poem (produced. for radio)- Language and Literaturre 1988
Various “Checking Out’ a Farewell” Tribute to Mervyn Morris,Professor of Creative Writing & W.I. Literature- Language  and Literature tape 1 of 2
Various “Checking Out’ a Farewell” Tribute to Mervyn Morris, Professor of Creative Writing & W.I. Literature Language  and Literature tape 2 of 2
Morris, Mervyn ; White, Livingston; Warner-Lewis, Maureen Reading V.S. Naipaul – Language and Literature 2001, Dec 2
Morris, Mervyn “Making West Indian Literature” – Language and Literature
Baugh, Edward; Morris, Mervyn Collage
Morris, Mervyn “Walcott and the audience for Poetry” – Derek Walcott
Morris, Mervyn “Walcott and the audience for Poetry” – Derek Walcott N.d N.d
Morris, Mervyn Interviews Ms Lou
Morris, Mervyn Interviews Mutabaruka
Morris, Mervyn Interviews Oku Onuora
Morris, Mervyn People on Campus Mervyn Morris Talks about poet James Berry 1986, Apr 17
Morris, Mervyn Caribbean Writer’s Series Mervyn Morris 1986, Apr
Morris, Mervyn Four Poets and their verses (live performances) Campus Comment Prog. 24 1975


Persons wishing to access the records from the LSW Collection may contact the UWI Mona Campus Main Library or the University Archives directly.


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