Jamaican Writing to Blossom from The Lignum Vitae Writing Awards

Jamaica's national flower, the Lignum-Vitae
Jamaica’s national flower, the Lignum-Vitae

In a move to further stimulate and develop Jamaica’s literary landscape, The Jamaican Writers Society (JaWS) have collaborated with the Jamaican Copyright Licensing Agency (JAMCOPY) to present the Lignum Vitae Writing Awards.

Aimed at becoming Jamaica’s premier literary award, the Lignum Vitae Writing Awards will promote and celebrate new Jamaican writing in the categories of adult, young adult and children’s literature.

At the media launch for the awards, held on Tuesday February 10, 2015 the organizers of the awards explained that the prize was deliberately named after the national flower to symbolize the national stature of the awards as well as the strength and beauty of the writing it will uncover and showcase.

The Lignum Vitae Writing Awards, to be presented biennially, are named in honour of three of Jamaica’s iconic writers, and are a combination of The Una Marson Award for adult fiction or adult creative non-fiction, the Vic Reid Award for young adult fiction and the Jean D’Costa award for children’s fiction.

The Una Marson and Vic Reid Awards were originated and previously managed by the now dormant National Book Development Council under the stewardship of Dr. Leila Thomas.

“We are building on the solid foundation laid down by the National Book Development Council. The Una Marson and Vic Reid Awards have been won by esteemed Jamaican writers such as Professor Mervyn Morris, Pam Mordecai, Garfield Ellis and Kei Miller,” said JaWS president Tanya Batson-Savage.

“Writing awards are an important way to celebrate great writing and bring it to public attention. Jamaican writing is currently enjoying an amazing level of international attention and it is important that we at home also honour and celebrate our writers.” This was a sentiment echoed by the Honorable Sandra Ffolkes Abrahams, Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.

The Minister went on to congratulate the Jamaica Writers Society and the JAMCOPY Cultural Fund through whose support The Lignum Vitae Writing Awards will provide a total of one million dollars to winning writers. The winner of the Una Marson Award will earn $500,000.00 while the winners of the Jean D’Costa and Vic Reid Awards will each earn $250,000.00.

In presenting the main address, guest speaker, award winning novelist and academic Dr Velma Pollard, lauded JAMCOPY and JaWS for revitalizing and expanding the award. Dr Pollard commented that “writing allows us the ability to see what is before us with clarity so that we can work out how best to deal with our challenges…determine what we can keep or discard and what may require a healing plaster.”

The award is open to all Jamaican writers, at home or abroad as well as writers of other nationality who are permanent residents to Jamaica. The awards accepts manuscripts only and will be adjudicated by a panel comprising writers, academics and literary critics selected from respected members of the Jamaican and Caribbean literary landscape.

The deadline for submissions is June 30, 2015 and the awards will take place in October 2015.

For more information contact Scarlette Beharie at


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  1. Lannie Mills
    June 23, 2015 at 11:33 am — Reply

    Hello, I would like to know the details such as guidelines and e-mail address to e-mail my work to for the Lignum Vitae contest. Thank

  2. […] Tom Redcam Drive, Kingston on Tuesday February 10th, 2015, the Lignum Vitae Writing Awards combines (Karin, 2015) the following three (3) awards into […]

  3. Karin
    February 26, 2015 at 11:05 am — Reply

    Thanks for your comments. I’ll find out more info and get back to you!

  4. dean Palmer
    February 26, 2015 at 9:28 am — Reply

    I would like to know what kind of subject matter can the writer focus on as well as details such as guidelines.

  5. Tracie
    February 25, 2015 at 9:39 pm — Reply

    Good evening,
    Please provide me with information on how to enter along with guidelines and deadlines.

    Thank you,

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