Pam Mordecai

Pamela Mordecai’s first poem was written when she was nine, about a hurricane that hit the island of Jamaica in that year.A bit of a hurricane herself, she he has been a teacher, a trainer of teachers, a TV host, a writer-researcher, an editor, a book packager and a publisher. She has written newspaper editorials, dance criticism, textbooks, critical articles on Caribbean literature, studies on Caribbean culture, education, and publishing, poems and stories for children, poems and short stories for adults. A play, “El Numero Uno,” commissioned by the Lorraine Kimsa Young People’s Theatre, had its world premiere in their 2009-2010 season. (See A prolific anthologist with a special interest in the writing of Caribbean women, she has edited ground breaking anthologies such as Jamaica Woman (with Mervyn Morris), Her True-True Name (with Betty Wilson), and From Our Yard: Jamaican Poetry since Independence. Her most recent anthology is Calling Cards: New Poetry from Caribbean/ Canadian Women.r. She was born and grew up there, “going to the nuns” at age four and leaving them at age twenty-one. By then she had gone to the USA and had done a first degree in English at a small Catholic college in Massachusetts that she helped to integrate. Returning to Jamaica after college, she taught, became involved in theatre and modern dance, and began writing seriously. She went to the University of the West Indies to do two teaching degrees, and eventually a PhD. (It took her sixteen years to write.)

Pamela has published numerous textbooks, many co-authored with the late Grace Walker Gordon, her writing partner for 25 years, as well as five books for children. Storypoems: a First Collection (Ginn & Co. 1987), Don’t Ever Wake a Snake(Sandberry Press, 1992), Ezra’s Goldfish and other storypoems (NCB & Nat’l Book Dev. Cttee, 1993).The Costume Party(Oxford U Press, 2000) and Rohan Goes to Big School (Oxford U Press, 2000.)

Journey Poem, her first collection of poetry, was published by Sandberry Press in 1989. De Man A Performance Poem, an eyewitness account of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ written in Jamaican Creole published by Sister Vision Press in 1995 continues to be performed in Canada and the Caribbean – most recently in Calgary in 2009 – to enthusiastic audiences.Certifiable: Poems, was published in 2001 by Goose Lane Editions. In 2001, Greenwood Press also published the reference work, Culture and Customs of Jamaica in their Culture and Customs series, edited by Peter Standish, which Pamela wrote with her husband, Martin. The True Blue of Islands which appeared in 2005, is a collection of poems dedicated to her brother, Richard, who was murdered in Jamaica in 2004. Her fifth collection of poems, Subversive Sonnets, was released by TSAR Press in fall, 2012.

Pink Icing: stories, a collection of prose fiction, was published by Insomniac Press in 2006. It received excellent reviews in Canada, the US and the Caribbean. Pamela is currently completing work on Cold Comfort, a second collection of short stories, and writing The Tear Well, a novel. Her fifth collection of poems, Subversive Sonnets, will be released by TSAR Press in September 2012.

Pamela has received many awards for her writing.In 1998, her short story, “Limber like Me” was shortisted in Prism International’s annual short story competition, and her short story, “Once on the Shores of the Stream, Senegambia” was shortlisted for the James Tiptree Award for Speculative Fiction in 2000. Her poems have been shortlisted for the cbc Literary Award for Poetry (Canada, 2007) and The Bridport Prize (UK, 2008). Other awards for her writing include the Institute of Jamaica’s Centenary Medal, Jamaica’s first Vic Reid Award for children’s writing (1993) and the Burla Award (2005) for her contribution to Caribbean literature. She has also received grants from the Toronto Arts Council (7), the Ontario Arts Council (4) and the Canada Council (4) in support of her writing. Pamela and her husband and three children migrated to Canada in 1993. She lives in Kitchener, Ontario.

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