Five critically acclaimed poetry anthologies are the finalists for this year’s National Books Critics Circle Award, one of the most prestigious and highly coveted literary awards in the United States. A naturalized Jamaican is among those five nominees. Ishion Hutchinson (a graduate of the Calabash Writers’ Workshop), whose House of Lords and Commons has impressed critics and reviewers far and wide, won a spot when the shortlisted finalists were announced recently. He is in fine company. Also vying for the poetry prize are Robert Pinsky (At the Foundling Hospital), Tyehimba Jess (Olio), Bernadette Mayer (Works and Days) and Monica Youn (Blackcore). The fiction category is just as illustrious, with the likes of Zadie Smith (Swing Time), Louise Erdrich (LaRose), Adam Haslett (Imagine Me Gone), Michael Chabon (Moonlight CD) and Ann Patchett (Commonwealth) are up for the award. Winners will be announced March 16.
> Senior ‘taking a break’ from fiction
After delivering two major projects within quick succession of each other – the award-wining non-fiction juggernaut Dying to Better Themselves and her newest short story collection The Pain Tree – it might be a while before we hear again from Olive Senior. “I’m taking a break. I have other stuff that need my attention, so I won’t be publishing anything new for a while,” Senior confided to TALLAWAH at the IOJ’s recent Grounation. But she does have a literary project in mind for when the time is right: revising her beloved and essential culture authority, the Encyclopaedia of Jamaican Heritage. Senior’s highly regarded body of work also includes the Commonwealth Prize-winning story collection Arrival of the Snake Woman, Discerner of Hearts and Gardening in the Tropics.
> Channer has poetry, fiction projects in the works
Has the Bocas Prize-nominated success of his debut poetry collection, Providential, inspired Colin Channer to embark on any new literary adventures? Absolutely. “I have both fiction and poetry working on now,” he tells TALLAWAH. “But I’m not sure which will come out first.” Wonderful news for fans of Providential and Channer’s previous hits like Waiting in Vain, The Girl With the Golden Shoes and Satisfy My Soul. Channer, who delivered the keynote address at the Feb. 19 leg of Grounation 2017, was set to headline UWI’s Love Affair with Literature this past Sunday but unfortunately missed his Friday afternoon flight.
“It’s an honest and frank story about my journey.”
– David Rodigan, famed disc jock and sound system selector, on his autobiography, My Life in Reggae, which goes on sale this month