Sat | Dec 10, 2016

Jamaica’s Poet Laureate to lead second annual writers’ retreat

Published:Sunday | April 19, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Professor Mervyn Morris

On June 5-7, poetry will take flight at the beautiful Liberty Hill Great House and Spa in Lime Hall, St Ann. Jamaica's current Poet Laureate, Professor Emeritus Mervyn Morris, OM, will lead the Second Annual Drawing Room Project Writers' Retreat, bringing people of all disciplines and backgrounds to the creative task of expression through poetic forms.

The purpose of the workshop is to create meaning from common human experiences. This follows a highly successful inaugural retreat in Highgate, St Mary in 2014 with poet Christine Craig, which attracted poets from Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Canada, and the United States.

Founded in 2007, the aim of the Drawing Room Project Association is to inspire and encourage a deeper involvement in the creative arts, and in particular, the literary arts, through workshops, productions and exhibits. Through shared dialogue and information, its ultimate goal is to establish a vibrant network that will nurture emerging and mid-career creative artists.

Liberty Hill Great House

Liberty Hill Great House is a former 18th Century pimento plantation perched 1,200 feet above sea level with expansive views of the Caribbean Sea. The retreat will draw on St Ann's rich history and cultural heritage with expert talks on the local traditions of Jonkannoo, Mento and the Tainos, epitomising their tag line, Conversations in the Heart of St Ann. As an additional treat, the venue will host a Sunday afternoon poetry reading event that will also showcase community craftspeople and artists. Professor Morris, workshop participants, as well as local and upcoming poets will read from their work on June 7 at 2:30 p.m. This will be free and open to the public, and local residents will be especially welcome. For city dwellers, Jamaica Cultural Enterprises will arrange a day trip from Kingston for the occasion.

The Jamaica National Foundation has already confirmed their support for the staging of this year's event under the theme, Art, Culture and Heritage.

Mervyn Morris, OM, is Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing and West Indian Literature at the University of the West Indies, and Poet Laureate of Jamaica, a former Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and a Fulbright Scholar. He was appointed as the first Poet Laureate for Jamaica since Independence in April 2014.

Registration for the Writers' Retreat is now open online at drp.eventzilla.net/web/event?eventid=2139072811 and an early-bird special runs until April 17, 2015. The cost of the retreat includes accommodation and meals for residency packages, however, there are also low-residency options that do not include accommodation. This is specially to encourage persons in St Ann to attend. Two such packages are being offered to students in the area in the form of scholarships. All selection is based on writing submissions.

The submission guidelines for the workshop are as follows:

Submit a writing sample of three poems by April 30, 2015, to drawingroomproject@gmail.com . Each poem should be no more than 25 lines and in Word Document or PDF format. Please include a cover page with contact information and a brief bio (75 words).