January 7, 2013 by Mosaic Magazine
LORNA GOODISON: INTERVIEW
by Clarence V. Reynolds
Poet and author Lorna Goodison has a contagious laugh. Whether she is sharing a moment that enlightened her early in her literary career or retelling an incident that involved a family member or a neighbor while growing up in Jamaica, the richness and fullness of her joviality embraces whoever happens to be in her company. Goodison confessed that in Jamaica having a sense of humor helps many people cope with life’s difficulties.
This past September, Goodison visited the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts in Brooklyn, NY, where she read from her latest book, By Love Possessed: Stories (Amistad/HarperCollins). The heartrending and oftentimes risible tales Goodison presents in By Love Possessed, including the Pushcart Prize-winning short story for which the book gets its title, explore the wide range of complex feelings that are kindled by love—its heartaches, its obsessions, and its passions. Many of the fables in the collection were inspired by people and instances in Jamaica, she said. Goodison is a detailed and thoughtful writer in every sense; and in these short stories she wields a cast of memorable characters, animated descriptions, and Caribbean patois to convey a truthfulness and a universality through her storytelling.
Before she decided that writing was indeed her calling, Goodison’s creative spirit had been drawn to painting, and she studied at the Jamaica School of Art and the school at the Art Student’s League in New York. (In fact, her artwork graces the covers of some of her books.) She also worked for a brief time in advertising. In the end, she surrendered to her literary voice. Goodison published her first collection of poetry, Tamarind Season, in 1980; and over the next thirty-plus years she has written ten volumes of poetry, which includesSelected...