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Jamaican In Australia Contributes To Homeland’s Literary Works

By: , December 9, 2021
Jamaican In Australia Contributes To Homeland’s Literary Works
Photo: Contributed
Winner of two gold and one bronze medal in the 2021 JCDC Creative Writing competition, poet, Kemar Cummings.

The Full Story

Kemar Cummings, a Jamaican writer and poet living in Australia, continues to participate in and contribute to the literary works of his homeland.

He recently won three medals in the 2021 Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Creative Writing Competition.

At the virtual awards ceremony held on November 20, Mr. Cummings received gold medals for his poems Brother and Negro Aroused. The third poem, Grandma received a bronze medal.

The two gold and one bronze medals awarded to poet, Poet Kemar Cummings in the 2021 staging of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s (JCDC) Creative Writing competition.


All his entries for this year’s competition tell stories from a place of pain and celebration.

Speaking with JIS News, Mr. Cummings says Negro Aroused talks about “how a dancer tries to represent Jamaica’s history of slavery through the art of dance”; Grandma “is about the speaker’s grandmother and how he remembers her after her death,” and, Brother “is about the speaker’s love for his brother after his murder.”

The 32-year-old poet, who has lived in Australia since 2013, is no stranger to the JCDC Creative Writing competition.

He tells JIS News that in 2015, he received two bronze medals for his poems entitled Ablution and Requiem, and in 2019, he received a merit award for his poem Warner Woman.

The two bronze medals awarded to poet, Kemar Cummings for his entries to the 2015 Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Creative Writing competition.


Kemar Cummings received a merit award for his poem ‘Warner Woman’, in the 2019 Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) Creative Writing competition.


On those two previous occasions, his friend Sandrika Dunkley assisted him by submitting the poems to the JCDC office in person and also collected the awards on his behalf.

Mr. Cummings says that the virtual approach to the competitions this year, enabled him to participate directly from Australia, as entrants were required to submit their work using the JCDC’s online platform, via info@jcdc.gov.jm.

“I was able to enter the competition from the comfort of my geographical location with little to no worries. Kudos to the JCDC team,” he tells JIS News.

Mr. Cummings, who has cerebral palsy, which affects his ability to move, and maintain balance and posture, has never allowed his situation to define who he is or limit his ability to achieve his dreams, and he tries to encourage others to do the same.

“It is vitally important that people with disabilities enter spaces like JCDC competitions so that they may express themselves, tell their stories and the stories of others while they reach their full potential and be involved in the community,” he says.

He tells JIS News that he loves writing and storytelling, noting that he started writing as a child because he loved to read poetry.

“As a child, I saw my future self as a writer and poet. As a result, I worked towards that goal by being purposeful in everything I did. I wrote poems at every opportunity, and I studied Literatures in English at the University of the West Indies, Mona to help me build on my love for writing.

“Today, I contribute written pieces to a local newspaper, and I have published work internationally in the Frogpond Journal, which is published by the Haiku Society of America. Additionally, my work is published in Modern Haiku, which is an independent journal of haiku and haiku studies,” he tells JIS News.

Mr. Cummings proudly tells JIS News that he has a poem entitled, Licky Licky, which is being included in 100+ Voices for Miss Lou: Poetry, Tributes, Interviews, Essays, edited by Professor Opal Palmer Adisa. The book is slated to be published in December by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Press.

The cover of the book ‘100+ Voices for Miss Lou’ edited by Professor Opal Palmer Adisa.


Professor Adisa tells JIS News that the idea for the book came when she worked with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport to organise the centennial birthday celebration for the late cultural icon in 2019.

“I thought it would be nice to have 100 contributors in a literary work in her honour. We received almost 200 contributors and I had to whittle it down to about 112 people. This explains the name 100+ Voices…,” the Professor explains.

The book boasts 456 pages and is divided into four sections – One Big Family, Reaffirming Our Culture, Aunty Roachy She, and Engaging in a Quarrel with History. Mr. Cummings’ contribution, Licky Licky will be in the third section.

“The cover is by Tommy Ricketts, and I chose it because it shows Miss Lou as a Language Warrior armed with her pens, which she used to liberate the Jamaican language,” Professor Adisa explains.

Professor Opal Palmer Adisa.


The book also features Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport, the Hon. Olivia Grange, who speaks about her relationship with Miss Lou; former Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson; former Poet Laureates Lorna Goodison and Mervyn Morris. It also features the works of Mutabaruka, Kwame Dawes, Jean Lowrie Chin and many more.

Mr. Cummings excitedly awaits the release of the book where he has contributed to piece of the Jamaican culture, as well as for more spaces created by the JCDC that allows for his participation.

“I look forward to contributing more of my writing to more JCDC spaces and others that encourage expression while adding to the literary works of Jamaicans within the diaspora,” Mr. Cummings says.

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