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Laura Tanna gets national award for literature, culture

Published:Thursday | October 23, 2014 | 10:00 AM
Dr Laura Tanna accepts the Order of Distinction, rank of Officer, from Governor General Sir Patrick Allen at the Ceremony of Investiture at King's House on Monday. Jermaine Barnaby/Photographer

HER LITERARY flair is both delightfully refreshing and riveting, but Dr Laura Tanna, a 2014 National Honours awardee, is much more than that.

Tanna, the consummate cultural connoisseur in the way of life that is largely indigenous to Jamaica, was on Monday duly recognised "for her invaluable contribution to literature and culture" in the Order of Distinction, rank of Officer, at the ceremony of investiture at King's House.

The multifaceted professional has also made her mark as an administrator, having made significant contributions to several organisations in which she focused the spotlight on the rich heritage claimed by Jamaica and its people.

Indeed, guided by Tanna's unstinting efforts in highlighting the picturesque uniqueness of Jamaican existence for decades, she has etched her mark vividly on the local cultural landscape.

Only a small segment of Tanna's aptitude in literary arts is showcased frequently in publications of The Sunday Gleaner. It is, therefore, fitting that national acknowledgement of Tanna's accomplishments coincides with the 180th anniversary milestone of one of the oldest newspapers in the hemisphere.

Tanna's ingenuity is aptly reflected in her work titled Jamaican Folk Tales and Oral Histories, which is contained in book, CD and DVD forms.

She has also produced a second CD, titled Maroon Storyteller, which has given access to persons in the international arena who are desirous of learning more about Jamaica's oral narratives of African heritage. The book was symptomatic of a book authored by Jamaica's 'Master Potter', Cecil Baugh, who pioneered the craft to world recognition in an era when pottery was still regarded as a lesser art form.

Tanna also vetted the work of another local poet and writer of some renown - Evan Jones' novel titled Stone Haven, about his family's history in Jamaica, for the Institute of Jamaica publications, and helped to raise money for its publication from Jamaica Producers Group in 1993. She recalled that, in 2005, she was asked by Greenwood Press to write the chapter on Jamaica in the Encyclopedia of World Folklore and Folklife.

Tanna served on the council of the Institute of Jamaica for 12 years between 1983-1995; and sat on the Advisory Board of the African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica for 12 years between 1985-1997; and for 12 years, between 2000-2012 served as a director of the King's House Foundation.