More males please!

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The National Library of Jamaica (NLJ) has been forced to reopen its call for submission from male poets for the national poetry competition organised in conjunction with Poet Laureate of Jamaica 2017-2020 Lorna Goodison.

This year's competition has been broken down into several categories, including the Michael Cooke Prize which is open to Jamaican male poets residing in one of the Western parishes (Hanover, Westmoreland, St Elizabeth, St James, and Trelawny). However, the library explained that the uptake for this segment has been found wanting.

Director of Special Programmes at the NLJ, Abigail Henry, noted, "We received a healthy number of submissions to the other three prizes; however, there were considerably fewer entries for the Michael Cooke Prize. The decision was made to reopen the prize in hopes of increasing the number of submissions."

This prize, which carries a cash award of US$1,000, will now be open for entries until February 22. Submissions can be sent in via e-mail or delivered to the National Library in downtown Kingston. Meanwhile entry to the other sections has already been closed.

The Michael Cooke Prize for Poetry is in honour of the late Professor Michael G Cooke -- a Jamaican who, in 1962, became the first black person to hold tenure as a professor of English at Yale University, and was a notable scholar across international literary traditions. This cash prize is funded by the Poet Laureate to recognise talented Jamaicans with an interest in pursuing a career in poetry.

The other categories are the Young Writer's Prize for Poetry, which affords shortlisted applicants the opportunity to have their work appraised by staff and students of the prestigious and highly competitive Master of Fine Arts writing programme at the University of Michigan. The prize is open to Jamaican nationals between the ages of 17-25 who are interested in pursuing a career in the writing poetry.

There is also the Edward Baugh Prize for Poetry. This is open to an emerging poet under the age of 35 residing in the eastern end of the island (Kingston, St Andrew, St Thomas and Portland). This prize is being administered in partnership with the University of Virginia Center for Poetry and Poetics.