Former Poets Laureate - The National Library of Jamaica

Former Poets Laureate

Poet Laureate of Jamaica 2014-2017

Professor Emeritus Mervyn Morris OM

On April 15, 2014, Professor Emeritus Mervyn Morris, OM, was announced as Jamaica’s first Poet Laureate since Independence. Poet Laureate Morris was officially invested by His Excellency The Governor-General, the Most Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, ON, GCMG, CD, KSt.J.

MERVYN MORRIS was born in Kingston in 1937. He studied at Munro College, the University College of the West Indies and, as a Rhodes Scholar, at St Edmund Hall, Oxford. From 1966 until 2002 he was on the staff of the University of the West Indies, retiring as Professor of Creative Writing and West Indian Literature. He received the Order of Merit in 2009.
His books of poems are The Pond, Shadowboxing, Examination Centre (New Beacon Books, London), Vestiges (a limited edition, Erlangen), On Holy Week (Dangaroo Press, Sydney) and I been there, sort of: New and Selected Poems (Carcanet, Manchester, 2006). In 1976 the Institute of Jamaica awarded him a silver Musgrave Medal for poetry. In 2011 the Poetry Archive, London, produced a CD of Mervyn Morris Reading from his Poems. He has given poetry readings in many countries and has conducted poetry workshops in the Caribbean, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom.

He is the author of ‘Is English We Speaking’ and other essays (1999), Making West Indian Literature (2005) and Miss Lou: Louise Bennett and Jamaican Culture (Ian Randle Publishers, Kingston, 2014).

Books he has edited include Selected Poems by Louise Bennett, It A Come by Michael Smith and After-image by Dennis Scott. He co-edited Jamaica Woman, an anthology of poems by Jamaican women who had not yet published individual collections, and Voiceprint, an anthology of oral and related poetry from the Caribbean.

Poems by Mervyn Morris:


Interview with Poet Laureate, Mervyn Morris on RJR’s ‘Jamaica Morning’

Click to view the Mervyn Morris Bibliography



Pre-Independence Poets Laureate

Prior to April 2014, there had been two Poets Laureate of Jamaica selected by the Poetry League of Jamaica.

Tom Redcam  (Thomas MacDermot) received the honour posthumously in October 1933 at a function held at the Ward Theatre and presided over by the Mayor of Kingston.

Tom Redcam (Thomas MacDermot)


John Ebenezer Clare McFarlane O.b.E, J.P., F.R.S.A, who was founder and President of the Poetry League Society of Jamaica, was crowned and robed as Poet Laureate at a ceremony held at the Ward Theatre on April 7, 1953. He served in the role until his death in 1962.

JE Clare Mcfarlane



The Poetry League of Jamaica

The Poetry League of Jamaica was founded by J.E.C. MacFarlane in September 1923. The League was established a branch of the Empire Poetry League, which had its headquarters at Abbey House, Westminster, London.