LORNA Goodison will be among the 138 honorees at the National Honours and Awards ceremony slated for King's House in St Andrew, tomorrow.
She will be receiving the Order of Distinction Commander Class for her contribution to poetry.
A professor at University of Michigan, Goodison lectures courses in creative writing and Caribbean literature, as well as holds poetry writing workshops.
In tracing the roots of her love for writing and literature, Goodison, 66, trips back to her formative years attending the All Saints School in Kingston and the influence of teacher RM Wilmott.
"He was a lover of the arts," she remembers. "We were always being introduced to the works of [William] Woodsworth and [William] Shakespeare. I was also in choirs and did all these things... a wonderful time for me," she says.
But it is clear love for writing and the arts started way before her days at All Saints.
She is born into a family of talented Jamaicans led by her eldest sibling, renowned, writer, dramatist, journalist, and radio show host Barbara Gloudon. A family which includes brothers Bunny, noted musicologist, and Kingsley, known for his Tribute to the Greats Series.
Goodison smiles when she reflects on her parent's — Vivian and Doris Goodison — influence.
"Momma never said she wanted a ride to go anywhere. She always said 'I need conveyance'... Who says that?", she asks, bursting into laughter.
"My father played a number of instruments, including piano and guitar, and was a lover of sports."
She explains her father's love for sports was passed on to her brothers.
"Bunny and Nigel is football. Keith... tennis and cricket. Howard, cycling and Kingsley, cricket."
She would, however, go on to pursue other artistic endeavours, but admits she wrote in secret.
She attended the Jamaica School of Art, where she pursued a course of study in painting, and followed that at the Art Students League in New York. Jobs with the Jamaica Library Service's Bookmobile project and a stint as an advertising copywriter would follow, but the desire to go 'public' would constantly gnaw at her.
So, 30 years ago, she finally went public. The result, a constant flow of personal life lessons with an appeal that reaches the heart of her readers.
"I pride myself on reflecting certain things about Jamaica very well. I have my ear tuned to the dialogue of the people... My mother's way of speaking... But I am aware that Jamaica is changing rapidly."
The aspect of this rapid change that concerns her most is the propensity to highlight the most dark and macabre side of our people through our writing and music.
"When some of us got into writing, there was nothing to get, so we wrote because we had to, as you wanted to see yourself in literature... Dickens and Shakespeare did not have our experiences. Today, there is much more at stake. So, in order to get that forward, many of our writers focus on the darkest points...they seem to be in love with ugliness... I really don't know what they love. We don't live in an idealistic paradise, but that don't hold me."
Her books include Travelling Mercies, Controlling the Silver, From Harvey River, Turn Thanks: Poems, and I am Becoming My Mother.
She says she never pressures herself with the what's next. Instead, she focuses on giving thanks.
"I am so grateful, so blessed that, if I don't get one more thing in this life, I am still grateful. When people come up to me in the most unlikely places and say how they have made a connection with my work, I am pleased and thankful that I made a connection, a human connection, nothing fancy, nothing alien, not trying to create sensationalism, or shock value, just something another human can relate to."