Lifting Voices of Jamaican Writers

13 Jun, 2022

For twenty years, the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education (CHASE) Fund has been assisting Jamaican writers in highlighting the nation’s historic and cultural achievements.

Through the Fund’s Policy on Literary Works, efforts such as documentaries, biographies and autobiographies of celebrated Jamaicans, works on parishes and places of historical significance have been supported.

Fifteen percent of the Fund’s resources are channeled towards projects that lead to the improvement of libraries, archives and documentation facilities, restoring and maintaining the country’s historic sites and monuments, as well as supporting the publication and distribution of books.

Literary works that have been supported by CHASE span education, history, literature, poetry art and digital records.

Project Monitoring Officer for Arts and Culture at the CHASE Fund, Alain Williams said to date, over one hundred publications have been funded.

“We view the publication of books in a broader sense as being contributors to the body of work available to the Jamaican population. There are things related to our leaders and founding fathers and for most countries developed and otherwise across the world, it is a huge part of the repository of the knowledge of those societies. We believe it is important to have these works captured documented and made available to current and future generations,” he said.

The most recent publication done was 100+ Voices for Miss Lou, Poetry Tributes, Interviews, and Essays, edited by Professor Opal Adisa.

Done in collaboration with the University of the West Indies Press (UWI Press),     the collection recognises the outstanding contribution of the celebrated literary icon and historian Louise Bennett Coverley.

The book also formed part of the One Hundred Days of Celebration to mark the 100th birthday of the Rt. Hon. Dr. Louise Bennett Coverley initiated in 2019.

The CHASE Fund approved funding of $1M in October 2019 towards the editing, publication and launch of the anthology.

Acting General Manager at UWI Press, Ms. Nadine Buckland who was present at the handover of the anthology in March, lauds the CHASE fund for their support in making the collection a reality.

“The production of this impressive collection with contributions by over 100 great cultural influencers, former heads of state, professors, and other literary and creative luminaries was made possible by the kind support of the CHASE FUND. We commend the CHASE FUND for seeing the value of bringing this vital work to the public and recognising the contributors’ role in creating a remarkable collection,” she said.

The editor, Professor Opal Adisa said working on the project was a pleasure and that she was “thrilled with the final product”.

“I love the volume, and more importantly, I believe Miss Lou would be pleased with the inclusive diversity, and to see this confirmation that she was so loved and positively impacted and influenced so many.  There is still so much more that needs to be done on Miss Lou, and I am prepared to go further and produce a documentary using this anthology as a springboard.”

Mr. Williams further explained that projects are selected for funding based on the focus of the Fund and the proposals submitted.

“After a proposal is submitted, from there it would be assessed in terms of relevance and again that would take into account some of the thematic areas covered under the policy. We would look at it in terms of quality, readiness and marketability. To be guided on much of these, we do have external persons who we call on to review manuscripts and provide their opinion as it relates to those areas which will help to coming to a final decision,” he explained.

Other publications supported by CHASE include The Jamaican Theatre: Highlights of Performing Arts in the Twentieth Century was written by Wycliffe Bennett and Dr. Hazel Bennett, Ancestral Whisperings by Kay Anderson, Sweet Runnings, Jamaica Recipes Galore by Pamella E. Powell and Heart Song: Poems of My Transformation by Blossom O’Meally-Nelson.

Latoya Aquart-Foster, Project Manager, CHASE Fund (right), looks through the book, “One 100+ Voices for Miss Lou” with Prof. Opal Palmer Adisa, the editor of the anthology and Nadine Buckland, Rights and Permissions/Finance Manager, University of the West Indies Press.