Saturday, October 19, 2013

Launch of the Jamaican Writers Society

I had promised that this week we'd see more of the wonderful work from Literacy 1-2-3, Windows to Literacy. However, something of note has occurred and so I know that you'll allow me to post this instead.

On Tuesday, Oct. 15, we launched the Jamaican Writers Society. There have been many attempts to have author groups before and somehow they haven't lasted. The one which lasted for the longest time (from the 1980s into the 2000s), and which was most vibrant, was the Children's Writers Circle. Those of us who were members then were younger (indeed); more vibrant and very passionate. Mind you, I don't think we are any less passionate now. The Children's Writers Circle eventually faded with the migration of some of the founding members, and perhaps also because the offer to get your work published, could no longer be offered as publishing became more expensive and we could neither find sponsors, nor put up the money ourselves.

So it is a great thing to have the birth of the Jamaican Writers Society. It has been formed under the auspices of JAMCOPY, the Jamaican Copyright Licensing Agency, which had for some years now been urging us to form an authors society.  There was a meeting in April of this year; a steering committee of volunteers was formed, and now it has been launched.  We plan to have the first general meeting by the end of November.  We expect that at the meeting those who wish to be members will add their ideas and voices.

The Jamaican Writers Society aims to 'promote and advance the interests of writers across all media'. . . by 'providing professional development opportunities', amongst other things. They want to raise the profile of writers in the society and also promote reading. Of course, you need readers for the works of writers to be appreciated, but really, I think that we just know that if you're not a reader, you're missing a great part of life.

I'm really very happy about the formation of this writers society. The present committee has a good mix of persons, including the older members who have experiences to share, and the younger ones who have the same passion, boundless energy and all sorts of technological excitement at their fingertips. Please join if you can:

The launch itself was delightful, with poetry being read by Erica Heslop Martin and Mel Cooke, and a thought provoking address (thought provoking is important - without thoughts we cannot write) by poet, Tanya Shirley. No, it's not going to be all about poetry. Already we have a publisher, a children's writer and prose writers on the committee (see list below). It's going to be all about you.

 And perhaps most significant at the birth of this writers society, we remembered C. Everard Palmer, the prolific children's writer who passed earlier this year. He was a significant part of  children's literature in our schools, a significant part of West Indian literature for our young people. We gratefully stand on the shoulders of those who came before.

The photo shows left to right: Denise Fyffe (poet, writer); Erika Heslop Martin (poet, writer); Tanya Batson Savage, Chairperson (publisher of adult and children's books, and author); Diane Browne ( author children's books); Kalilah Enriquez, Vice Chair (poet); Godfrey Taylor (musician, author); Arnoldo Ventura (scientist, poet). There is also Maxine McDonnough (editor), not in the picture. See you at the next gathering of the writers.


  1. Replies
    1. Hi Helen, Email them at , giving them your contact details and then they'll send you the info re the first general meeting. If you don't get through send me the info and I'll get it to them.

    2. Email address disappeared from last reply. Interesting.

  2. Thanks a lot for this post!
    I'm just finding out about the Jamaican Writers Society today and realized there was a meeting sometime in October.
    I've been looking for an organization like this for the longest while and I'm thrilled to see that there's finally one.