Jamaica’s Poet Laureate to Lead Second Annual Writers’ Retreat in Lime Hall, St. Ann


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Last summer I participated in The Drawing Room Project’s first retreat led by Christine Craig, along with poets from Jamaica, the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. It was an extraordinarily fruitful and enriching experience, and I wrote about it in this blog. This year, the Retreat will be led by our very own Poet Laureate at the Liberty Hill Great House and Spa in Lime Hall, St. Ann from June 5 – 7, 2015. Full details are below. St. Ann residents are especially encouraged to attend and participate. By the way, I was a complete novice last year – and learned so much! APPLY TODAY! – note the deadline is APRIL 30, 2015.

The Drawing Room Project
drawingroomproject@gmail.com   Tel: (876) 793-5970

Jamaica's Poet Laureate Professor Mervyn Morris.
Jamaica’s Poet Laureate Professor Mervyn Morris.

April 10, 2015

“A reading man and woman is a ready man and woman, but a writing man and woman is exact. “

“Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men.”

– Marcus Garvey

Kingston, Jamaica. April 10, 2015. – The Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko wrote: “Poetry is like a bird, it ignores all frontiers.” On June 5 – 7, 2015, poetry will take flight at the beautiful Liberty Hill Great House and Spa in Lime Hall, St. Ann, Jamaica. 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 and was widely supported. JN Foundation has already confirmed their support for the staging of this year’s event under the theme art, culture and heritage.

The lush “garden parish” of St. Ann has many tourist attractions, including the famous Dunn’s River Falls. However, it is much more than lovely beaches. It is the birthplace of civil rights activist and National Hero Marcus Garvey and reggae legends Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley and Winston (Burning Spear) Rodney. Christopher Columbus first landed in Jamaica at New Seville, the first Spanish settlement in Jamaica, in 1494. Moreover, it is considered the oldest Taino site in Jamaica, with settlements going back to 650 A.D.

Liberty Hill Great House, Lime Hall, St. Ann
Liberty Hill Great House, Lime Hall, St. Ann

Liberty Hill Great House is a former eighteenth-century pimento plantation perched 1,200 feet above sea level, with expansive views of the Caribbean Sea and a tranquil garden descending the hillside. 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, epitomizing 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 from 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.

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. The Poetry Archive describes him as “one of the most resourceful and technically brilliant of Caribbean poets…A supreme poet of the everyday.” His poetry explores the daily struggles of the human condition, often with restrained dry humor and a sense of the irony of life.

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Registration for the Writers’ Retreat is now open online at http://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. 2 such packages are being offered to students in the area in the form of a 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).

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.

Last year's retreat with Christine Craig in Highgate, St. Mary.  (Photo: The Drawing Room Project)
Last year’s retreat with Christine Craig in Highgate, St. Mary. (Photo: The Drawing Room Project)

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