extended bio
Olive Senior was born and brought up in Jamaica. She attended Montego Bay High School and Carleton University School of Journalism, Ottawa, as a Commonwealth scholar. She also studied journalism as a Thomson Scholar at the Thomson Foundation, Cardiff, and book publication under UNESCO auspices at the Institute of Mass Communication, University of the Philippines. In Jamaica she first worked as a journalist with the Daily Gleaner, later with Jamaica Information Service. After some years as a free lancer in public relations, publishing and speech writing, she became editor of Social and Economic Studies of the University of the West Indies and, later,  Jamaica Journal, published by Institute of Jamaica Publications of which she was also managing director. She has travelled extensively and from 1989 until 1993 when she settled in Toronto, she lived in several European countries. However she visits Jamaica frequently and the island and the wider Caribbean remain central to her work. She teaches writing internationally and has read her work and lectured at many international venues over the years.
Denise deCaires Narain, Olive Senior, Writers and their Work Series, UK: Northcote Publishers, 2011; Wikipedia; The Poetry Archive (;; The Writers Directory, 33rd edition 2014; The International Who's Who of Authors and Writers; The International Who's Who in Poetry; Encyclopedia of World Literature in the Twentieth century, 3rd ed. vol 4; Facts on File Companion to World Poetry: 1900 to the Present; Contemporary Black Biography; "Olive Senior" in A Reader's Companion to the Short Story in English, edited by Erin Fallon et. al. Under the Auspices of the Society for the Study of the Short Story. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001. Callaloo (ed. Charles Rowell): Olive Senior, A Special Section, Vol. 11, No. 3, Summer 1988.

Dr Leanne Haynes "Olive Senior on Writing", Arc, ( 2014) Meaghan Strimas, "Stealing Time",

The Spaces Between Words ( /podcast 49)

Hyacinth Simpson, 'The In-Between Worlds of Olive Senior', Wasafiri, 23:1, 2008

Martin Mordecai, Beat Profile: 'Olive Senior: Speaking Back to Home', Caribbean Beat, July/August 2006 1992-2006 issue 80

Amateritsero Ade interviews Olive Senior, Sentinel Poetry (Online) The International Literary Journal, January 2006,

Anthea Morrison, 'Making Cassava Bammy from Scratch': An Interview with Olive Senior, Jamaica Journal 29: 1-2, 2005

Elaine Savoury, 'Interview with Olive Senior', Wadabagei, 8:3, Fall 2005

Laura Tanna, 'One on One with Olive Senior', in three parts, Jamaica Gleaner Pt. 1, 17 October 2004; Pt. 2 31 October 2004; Pt 3, 7 November 2004.

Dolace McClean and Jacqueline Bishop, 'Of Hearts Revealed: An Interview with Olive Senior', Calabash, 2:2 summer/fall 2003, electronic version -

Funso Aiyejina, 'Olive Senior, Interview', Self-Portraits, Interview with Ten West Indian Writers and Two Critics, Trinidad and Tobago: UWI School of Continuing Studies, 2003; originally published in Trinidad and Tobago Review, 17, 4-16 June 1995 as 'Olive Senior, Interview'

Dominique Dubois and Jeanne DeVoize, 'An Interview  with Olive Senior', Journal of the Short Story in English, 20th anniversary issue, 2003; originally published in issue no. 26, Spring 1996

Joan Anim-Addo, 'Interview with Olive Senior', Mango Season, volume 7, December 1996

Kwame Dawes, 'Talk Yuh Talk': Interviews with Anglophone Caribbean Poets. Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 2001

John Degen - Profile - Cover story Books in Canada February 1995

Wolfgang Binder, 'An interview with Olive Senior', Commonwealth, 18:1, Autumn, 1995

Marlies Glaser, 'Olive Senior: A Shared Culture', Caribbean Writers edition of Matatu edited by Marlies Glaser and Marion Pausch, Rodopi, 1994

Charles H. Rowell, 'An Interview with Olive Senior', Callaloo, 11, summer, 1988

Anna Rutherford, 'Olive Senior: Interview', Kunapipi  8, No. 2, 1986

Commonwealth Writers Prize, for Summer Lightning, 1987; F.G. Bressani Literary Prize for Gardening in the Tropics, 1995; Over the Roofs of the World shortlisted for the Governor-General's Literary Award for poetry 2005, runner up for the Casa de Las Americas Prize 2005; Shell shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Award 2006; Hawthornden Fellow, Scotland, 1994; Dana Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing and International Education, St. Lawrence University, Canton NY, 1994-5; Norman Washington Manley Foundation Award for Excellence (preservation of cultural heritage - Jamaica), 2003; Gold Medal of the Institute of Jamaica 2004; 2005 Humanities Scholar, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill, Barbados; 2015 OCM Bocas Literary Prize for Non-Fiction; Isabel Sissons Canadian Children's Story Award, 2011; Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council works-in-progress grants.
I have served on juries for Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Sasketchewan Arts Awards, Commonwealth Writers Prize at regional and international levels, Guyana Prize, Kobzar Prize, among others
Faculty, the Humber School for Writers, Humber College, Toronto, from 1998 to the present. I have also taught writing (poetry and/or fiction) at the University of Toronto; St Lawrence University, Canton, NY; University of Miami, Florida; Barnard College, Columbia University, New York; University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad. I've conducted writing workshops in many venues, including residential workshops for the Arvon Foundation in England and TyNewydd Centre, Wales, and workshops for the Poetry School, London, UK; Bermuda Ministry of Culture and Bermuda College; Bahamas Writers Summer Institute, among others.
International Readings and Lectures (selected list)
National Library of Canada; Toronto International Festival of Authors (IFOA) Vancouver International Festival of Writers, Thin Air Festival, Winnipeg; Feminist Book Fair, The Netherlands; Crossing Borders Festival, Den Haag; Poetry International, Rotterdam; Literatures of the Commonwealth Festival, Manchester; London: South Bank Centre: Royal Festival Hall, (various); Commonwealth Institute, London,  University of Glasgow,  University of Reading,  Brooklyn Public Library, University of Hawaii, Colgate University, NY; University of Iowa, IO; University of Maryland, PEN Authors in the Classroom, NY, St Olaf College, Minn., Kent State University, The Americas Society, New York, NY, University of Northern Iowa, Hamilton College, NY; Art Institute of Chicago;Wellesley College, Mass; University of Pittsburg, Penn; University of Paris (the Sorbonne). I have also lectured and/or read my work in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Colombia, Curacao, Guyana, Trinidad, Bermuda, the Bahamas, among other places.  
Résidence, Écla Aquitaine Résidences de la Prévôté, Bordeaux, France, 2014; Writer in Residence:  University of Adelaide, Australia, 2009; University of the West Indies, Trinidad, 2002; University of Alberta, 1998-1999; University of the West Indies, Jamaica, 1993, 1998; Banff International Writing Studio, 1997; Arts Council of Great Britain International Writer-in-Residence, England, 1991.
Gardening in the Tropics has been a poetry textbook for the CAPE syllabus for Caribbean schools, beginning in September 2005 and Summer Lightning has been a literature textbook on the CXC (Caribbean Examinations Council) syllabus.Gardening in the Tropics has also been on the syllabus for the International Baccalaureate. My work is taught at universities internationally and appears in many anthologies for primary and secondary schools and multicultural education.

Essays and Articles in Books and Periodicals:
  • "Colón Man and the Panama Experience", Jamaica Journal, forthcoming, 2015
  • "Island Workers and the Building of the Panama Canal", Jamaque International, 2015
  • "The Short Story" in Writing Short Stories: A Writers' and Artists' Companion edited by Courttia Newland and Tania Hershman, UK: London: Bloomsbury, 2015. 114-115.
  • "Preface" to Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean, New York and Leeds, UK: Peekash Press, 2014. 11-16.
  • "Foreword" to Jamaica's 'Forgotten Prime Minister': Donald Sangster by Hartley Neita, Kingston, Jamaica: Minna Press 2012. vii-xii.
  • "Crossing Borders and Negotiating Boundaries" in Jamaica in the Canadian Experience: A Multiculturalizing Presence. Edited by Carl E. James and Andrea Davis, Halifax and Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 2012. 14-22.
  • " 'Whirlwinds Coiled at My Heart' : Voice and Vision in a Writer's Practice", in Crosstalk: Canadian and Global Imaginaries in Dialogue, edited by Diana Brydon and Marta Dvorak, Waterloo, Canada: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2012. 21-35.
  • "Returning Borrowed Images: Writing English and 'Jamaica Talk' and the Problems of Translation" in Autour d'Olive Senior. Hétérolinguisme et traduction sous la direction de Marie-Annick Montout. Presses de l'universite d'Angers, 2012, 9-19.
  • "A Pocketful of Stories", Sky Writings, Nov-December 2006, 61-63.
  • "The Reluctant Interpreter", in Writing Life: Reflections by West Indian Writers, edited by Mervyn Morris and Carolyn Allen, Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers 2007, 155-162.
  • "The Passionate Reading of Youth: Ten LRC Contributors Revisit Books that Changed their Lives", Literary Review of Canada, 14:10 2006. 12-13
  • "The Origins of 'Colón Man': Jamaican Emigration to Panama in the Nineteenth Century" in Regional Footprints: The Travels and Travails of Early Caribbean Migrants, Kingston:LACC-UWI, 2006.
  • "The Poem as Gardening, the Story as Su-Su: Finding a Literary Voice", in Routing and Routing Caribbean-Canadian Writing, Journal of West Indian Literature 14: 1-2, 2005, 35-48.
  • "The Story as Su-su; the Writer as Gossip", Writers on Writing: The Art of the Short Story. edited by Maurice A Lee, Westport, Conn.: Praegar, 2005. 41-50.
  • "Lessons from the Fruit-Stand, or, Writing for the Listener", Journal of Modern Literature, 20:1 1996. 39-44.
  • "Of Red-Eyed Rivers and a Country Childhood", Best of Skywritings, Macmillan.

Anthologies and Journals:
My work has been included in numerous anthologies worldwide. Selected list of anthologies that have included my work: Moving Worlds, (2014); Give the Ball to the Poet: A New Anthology of Caribbean Poetry", (2014); Teaching with Heart. Poetry that speaks to the courage to teach, (2014); Another English. Anglophone Poems from around the world, (2014); The Great Black North. Contemporary African Canadian Poetry, (2013); Jublilation! Poems celebrating 50 years of Jamaica's Independence, (2012); So Much Thing to Say: 100 Calabash Poets (2010);Tell Tales vol. 4: The Global Village (2009); Norton Introduction to Literature, 9th edition (2006); Norton Introduction to Poetry, 8th edition (2004); Stories from Blue Latitudes: Caribbean women writers at home and abroad (2006); Revival: an anthology of Black Canadian Writing (2006);The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse (2006);New World of Literature: writings from America's many cultures, (2005); Poems on the Underground: 1,000 years of poetry in English. 9th edition (2001) and Best Poems on the Underground (2009); Turn of the story: Canadian short fiction on the eve of the millennium (1999); The New Exeter Book of Riddles (1999);Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories (1999);Go Tell it on the Mountain and related readings (1998); Eyeing the north star: directions in African-Canadian literature (1997);The Penguin Book of Caribbean Short Stories (1996);The long pale corridor: contemporary poems of bereavement (1996); Modern literatures of the non western world: Where the Waters are Born (1995);Concert of voices: an anthology of world writing in English (1995); Ancestral House: the Black Short Story in the Americas and Europe (1995);Rites of Passage: stories about growing up by black writers from around the world (1994);The Heinemann Book of Caribbean Poetry (1992);The Faber Book of Contemporary Caribbean Short Stories (1990); Hinterland: Caribbean Poetry from the West Indies and Britain (1989)

Selected List of Journals
Maple Tree Literary Supplement (MTLS online), Arc, The Literary Review of Canada, Sentinel Poetry (Online) The International Literary Journal, Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Review 68: Literature and Arts of the Americas, Kunapipi, Mangrove, Wasafiri, Moving Worlds, Journal of Caribbean Literatures, Poetry Wales, Wildflower: North America's Magazine of Wild Flora, Calabash, Poetry London Newsletter, Conjunctions, Arts Review, Savacou, Skywritings, Artrage, Spare Rib, Third World Quarterly.

Recent translations include:
Un Pipiri m'a dit translated into French by the Passages collective led by Nicole Ollier, Universirty of Bordeaux.Le Castor Astral, 2014. ZigZag, translated into French by Christine Raguet, Geneva: Zoe, 2010; Eclairs de chaleur, translated into French by Christine Raguet, Geneva: Zoe, 2011,  Depuis la Terrasse et autres nouvelles (translated into French by Marie-Annick Montout), special edition,  l'Atelier d'écriture, Mauritius, 2011; Zomerweerlicht (Trans: Marie Luyten), Netherlands: Ambo/Novib, 1991; Das Erscheinen der Schlangenfrau (trans: Wolfgang Binder) Germany: Dipa/Verlag, 1996  and Unionsverlag  2003; a Book Club Selection, The Berne Declaration, Switzerland, 1996.

Recent translations in journals and anthologies include:
Border Crossings. A Trilingual Anthology of Caribbean Women Writers edited by Nicole Roberts and Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw (UWI Press, 2011); Antologia Pan-Americana, 48 contos contemporâneos do nosso continente, Brazil:Organização Stéphane Chao, 2010; Poetas del Caribe ingles: Antología (2 vol) (translated by Keith Ellis), Colección Poesía del mundo serie, Venezuela: 2009. Other work has been translated and published in Russian, Italian, German, Dutch and other languages
The Poetry Archive (UK).

Half-hour feature, 'Gardening with Olive', Caribbean Tales, Leda-Serene Films, Toronto, first broadcast on Bravo TV as part of the Literature Alive series, 2006

Story 'You Think I Mad, Miss?' produced and performed as 'Mad Miss' by Theatre Archipelago, May 27-June 12, 2005, Artword Theatre, Toronto

Internet Poet-in-residence on the 'Common... Places' web site launched by the Commonwealth Institute, London, England, 1999

Poem 'Ode to Pablo Neruda' commissioned by BBC Radio 3, England, first broadcast in series 'Poet's Fan Mail', 16 October 1997

Radio play 'Window' commissioned by CBC Radio (Canada) and first broadcast on Morningside Program in three parts 21-23 March 1996

Short story 'The Pain Tree' commissioned by CBC Radio (Canada) for broadcast in Short Story Festival, 'Between the Covers' , November 1997

Stories and poems have also been broadcast on JBC, Radio Mona (Jamaica) BBC Radio 4 (UK), BBC Book at Bedtime; CBC Radio 'Morningside' program (Canada), BBC Schools Service, Inner London Education Authority (UK), North York Board of Education (Canada), among others.
Reviews of my work have been published in literary journals, periodicals and newspapers in the Caribbean, Canada, the USA, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and elsewhere (selected list or copies of articles available on request).
See CRITICAL RESPONSE for scholarly articles on my work