Announcing the Young Writer's Prize for Poetry Shortlist 2018 - The National Library of Jamaica

Announcing the Young Writer’s Prize for Poetry Shortlist 2018

The National Library of Jamaica is pleased to announce the shortlist for the Poet Laureate of Jamaica and Helen Zell: Young Writer’s Prize for Poetry for 2018!

This is the inaugural year of the prize which was established to recognize talented young Jamaicans with an interest in pursuing a career in poetry. The winner will receive a US$1000 cash prize, funded by the Helen Zell Writer’s Program at the University of Michigan,

The competition, which was opened for submissions in October 2017, received submissions from young Jamaicans living at home and abroad, with each  submitting a portfolio of between three to six (3-6) poems. Judging was conducted by a distinguished panel at the National Library of Jamaica (which included Past Poet Laureate of Jamaica 2014-2017), Professor Emeritus Mervyn Morris; lecturer in the department of Literatures in English at the UWI, Dr. Anthea Morrison; and President of the Poetry Society of Jamaica, Yashika Graham) as well as by staff and students of the prestigious Master of Fine Arts writing program at the University of Michigan.


The winner will be announced at the official celebration of World Poetry Day, Jamaica on March 21, 2018. An award ceremony will be held at the Knutsford Court Hotel at 10:00am.


Introducing the candidates… 





Jovanté Anderson

Jovanté Anderson is a third year student at Lafayette College, currently pursuing a double major in Anthropology and Sociology, as well as in English with a concentration in Literature. He is originally from Harbour View, St Andrew. As a young poet, he is always trying to learn more about his craft and how he can use it to impact the world, or at least, make a mockery of it. He spends his everyday navigating always-interesting, mostly-amusing American spaces that do not always feel like home, but always feels like adventure. After graduating from college, he hopes to pursue a PhD in Cultural Anthropology in 2019.


Khadijah Chin

Khadijah D. Chin is a lifelong writer and a lover of language. At age 23, she is a teacher of English at Campion College with a degree in Language Education. She believes in filling herself up with the simple things of life like play dates with her baby sister and fresh coconut jelly. Her profound belief is that life is far too rich and far too vast for one’s greatest accomplishments to be found on a résumé.


Lauren Delapenha

Lauren was born and raised in Jamaica, first in Kingston, and then in Montego Bay where she attended Montego Bay High School. She then graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in English, focusing on fiction writing and film. During her time abroad, she has been honoured to receive the Senior Creative Writing Prize at The Lawrenceville School in 2010, and the Armstrong Literary Prize one year later in college. She currently attends Oxford University where she is pursuing a Master’s in Creative Writing. Depending on your pronunciation, her last name supposedly means either “of the rock” or “of the shame, misery, and embarrassment.”


Britney Gabbidon

Britney Gabbidon is a sixth form student who has had an interest in poetry and prose since a young child. She began practising these art forms at the age of eleven and currently strives towards refining her skills with the goal of becoming a published author and poet.