Olive Senior. Courtesy Voices from the Gaps.

Olive Marjorie Senior (born 1941) is a Jamaican poet and short story writer who lives in Canada.

Life[edit | edit source]

Senior was born in Trelawney, Jamaica.

She attended Montego Bay High School For Girls. At age 19 joined the staff of the Jamaica Gleaner in Kingston, Jamaica.

She later won a scholarship to study journalism in Cardiff, Wales, and then at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. While at university she began writing fiction and poetry.

On her return to Jamaica, she worked as a journalist before joining the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of the West Indies, where she edited the journal Social and Economic Studies.

In 1982 she joined the Institute of Jamaica as editor of the Jamaica Journal. She also oversaw the publication of a number of books on Jamaican history and culture.

After Hurricane Gilbert hit Jamaica in 1988, Senior moved to Europe, where she lived for short periods in Portugal, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, before settling in Canada in the early 1990s. She returns to Jamaica almost every year.

Writing[edit | edit source]

Senior's work often addresses questions of Caribbean identity in terms of gender and ethnicity. She has said: "I've had to deal with race because of who I am and how I look. In that process, I've had to determine who I am. I do not think you can be all things to all people. As part of that process, I decided I was a Jamaican. I represent many different races and I'm not rejecting any of them to please anybody. I'm just who I am and you have to accept me or not."

Recognition[edit | edit source]

Her short story collection Summer Lightning (1986) won the Commonwealth Writers Prize.

In 2005, Senior was awarded a Musgrave Gold Medal by the Institute of Jamaica for her contributions to literature.

Publications[edit | edit source]

Poetry[edit | edit source]

  • Talking of Trees. Kingston, Jamaica: Calabash, 1985.
  • Gardening in the Tropics: Poems. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1994; Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK: Bloodaxe Books, 1995; Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2005.
  • Over the Roofs of the World. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2005.
  • Shell. Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2007.

Fiction[edit | edit source]

  • Summer Lightning, and other stories. Harlow, Essex, UK: Longman, 1986.
  • Arrival of the Snake-Woman, and other stories. Harlow, Essex, UK: Longman, 1989; Toronto: TSAR Publications, 2010.
  • Discerner of Hearts. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1995, 2002.
  • Dancing Lessons: A novel. Toronto: Cormorant Books, 2011.

Non-fiction[edit | edit source]

  • The Message is Change: A perspective on the 1972 general elections. Kingston, Jamaica: Kingston Publishers, 1972.
  • A-Z of Jamaican Heritage. Kingston, Jamaica: Heinemann / Gleaner, 1983.
    • revised and expanded as Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage. St. Andrews, Jamaica: Twin Guinep Publishers, 2003.
  • Working Miracles: Women's lives in the English-speaking Caribbean. London: J. Currey / Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana Press, 1991.

Juvenile[edit | edit source]

  • Birthday Suit (illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes). Toronto: Annick Press, 2012.

Edited[edit | edit source]

  • The Journey Prize Anthology: Short fiction from the best of Canada's new writers. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1996.


Olive Senior Gardening with Olive. Literature Alive

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[1]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. Search results = au:Olive Senior, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, June 7, 2013.

External links[edit | edit source]

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