Written by Chantel DaCosta

Caribbean Writers – Olive Senior – Jamaica

“Each full moon

I lay flat on the ground

With outstretched limbs

While you outline my body

With bits of glass, mirror


– From the poem Moonshine Dolly,

Gardening in the Tropics by Olive Senior, 2005


Birth Name: Olive Marjorie Senior

Place of Birth: Trelawny Jamaica

Born: December 23, 1941

Olive Senior is a Jamaican poet, novelist, short story and non-fiction writer.  She is a graduate of Montego Bay High School and Carleton University, Ottawa.  She started her career as a journalist with the Daily Gleaner. She was editor of two of the Caribbean’s leading journals – Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies and Jamaica Journal, published by Institute of Jamaica Publications. Senior left Jamaica in 1989, spent some years in Europe and since 1993 has been based in Toronto, Canada.  In 1987, Senior won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for her first collection of stories, Summer Lightning and Other Stories. She has gone to have a prolific writing career with much acclaim.


Photo from Goodreads

Noted Works:


  • Talking of Trees, Calabash, 1986.
  • Gardening in the Tropics, McClelland & Stewart, 1994.
  • Shell, Insomniac Press, 2007


Short stories

  • Summer Lightning and Other Stories, Longman, 1986
  • Arrival of the Snake-Woman, Longman, 1989.
  • Discerner of Hearts, McClelland & Stewart, 1995.
  •  The Pain Tree, Cormorant, 2015.


  • Dancing Lessons, Cormorant Books, 2011.

Children’s literature

  • Anna Carries Water, Tradewind, 2013


  • A-Z of Jamaican Heritage, Heinemann and Gleaner Company Ltd, 1984.

Accolades and Awards:

1987: Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, for Summer Lightning and Other Stories

1988: Silver Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica

1995: F.G. Bressani Literary Prize for Gardening in the Tropics

2003: Norman Washington Manley Foundation Award for Excellence for the preservation of Jamaican cultural heritage

2015: OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, winner of non-fiction category

2016: OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, winner of fiction category and overall winner

Sources: Olive Senior Author Website, Jamaica Information Service, NGC Bocas Lit Fest


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