International Poet Christine Craig to Mentor Inaugural Writers’ Retreat in Highgate, St Mary



May is the season for the Literary Arts  and Highgate, St Mary is bearing new fruit with the Drawing Room (DRP) Association’s hosting of a three day Writers’ Retreat (Genre: poetry), from May 23rd to 25th 2014.

Aimed at new to early and mid-career writers and featuring the internationally acclaimed Christine Craig, the retreat will be held at “Country Thyme” agro cottages in Highgate, in the heart of St. Mary.

With writers such as the Honourable Louise Bennett- Coverley, aka Miss Lou, Erna Brodber  and Velma Pollard hailing from Highgate, and with English writers  like Ian Flemming and Noel Coward, who spent years writing in St Mary, the location has become almost synonymous with literature and prestigious writers.  The DRP intends to extend this tradition and become part of the location’s unique identity. 

Craig, a multifaceted writer who focuses on poetry and fiction (both adults and children) leads this inaugural residency, where 12 participants will be guided in their craft towards publication.

“Christine was a natural pick” says Sonja Harris one of three trustees  of the Drawing Room Project Association as “her poetry, collected in the anthology, Quadrille for Tigers, Mina Press, Berkeley CA, is praised for its flair for language, evocative descriptions of the Jamaican landscape, and dramatic imagery of the poignancy and pain of life for many Jamaican women.” (www.amazon.com).,.

The retreat stands to gain from Highgate’s rich culture and history, stimulating the creative process with landscape, architecture, community living and the documenting of indigenous practices that have sustained the area for generations.  But there are also benefits to the community as two low-residency fellowships – The DRP Writers Fellowship and the Bookophilia Young Poets Award – are being offered to students in Highgate. 

Additionally,  on Saturday, May 24 at the venue, from 7pm to 10pm. The public is invited to enjoy readings by the participants, to share their own work and see displays by the Jamaica Hardanga Heritage Trust, Highgate Agricultural Producers Enterprise (H.A.P.E.) and local craftsmen.

It is this unique twist on the literary residency that has enticed corporate visionaries such as the JN Foundation, Jamaica Tourist Board, Jamaica Producers and Bookophila.  As proud sponsors of the event, they are giving gravitas to the idea that rural development and community living are at the heart of corporate responsibility and their organisations’ ethos.  Other sponsors include Poetry Society of Jamaica and Peepal Tree Publishers whose dedication to Caribbean writers needs no proclamation.

Founded by writers Millicent Graham and Joni Jackson, with trustees— Sonja Harris, Hyacinth Hall and George Davis—the Drawing Room Project Association has brought persons together and engaged them in a series of creative conversations through workshops, productions and exhibits. Their goal is to build a better society through introspective art and collaboration.  For the association, this is another stem on Highgate’s literary tradition, following in the footsteps of Brodber’s Black Space and the achievements of past luminaries.


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