Una Marson Award for Adult Literature

JAWS LOGO-1 (on blue) from Tanya



Lignum Vitae Writing Awards


The Jamaican Writers Society (JaWS) and the Jamaican Copyright Licensing Agency (JAMCOPY) are collaborating to resuscitate the UnaMarson and Vic Reid Awards for adult and children’s literature respectively. These nationally instituted awards, by the now dormant National Book Development Council (NBDC) are being re-vitalized and re-imagined in order to stimulate the emergence of a new crop writers and writing in Jamaica.

The Awards were previously staged biennially from 1993 through to 2006 during which time they significantly impacted the careers of many writers. Under the auspices of the Book Development Council, at least two of the winning entries were published: Pam Mordecai’s Ezra’s Goldfish (Vic Reid Award, 1993) and Garfield Ellis’ Flaming Hearts and Other Stories (UnaMarson Award, 1993). The last winning title of the UnaMarson Award, Kei Miller’s novel The Last Warner Woman has also been published.

JaWS and JAMCOPY are seeking to build on the solid foundation laid down by the Book Development Council of Jamaica. The resuscitated awards will now come under the general nomenclature of the Lignum Vitae Writing Awards, a name which artfully emanates the national stature of the awards as well as symbolizes the elements of strength and beauty of the writing we wish to uncover and showcase.


Named in honour of poet, playwright and broadcaster UnaMarson (Tropic Reveries, At What a Price, Pocomania) the 2015 UnaMarson Award for adult literature will accept fiction and creative non-fiction manuscripts. The award accepts novels and other full-length creative non-fiction works as well as short story and essay collections.

Entries should not be less than 50,000 words and should be of a non-technical, non-specialist nature, be likely to appeal to the general reader and demonstrate literary qualities and techniques. These can include memoirs, biographies and autobiographies as well as works of history and contemporary culture.

Entries should not be less than 50,000 words. Graphic novels are not eligible for entry.

WINNING ENTRY – J$500,000.00.


  • The competition is open to all Jamaican nationals (resident or non-resident) as well as Permanent Residents to Jamaica. Entrants of all ages are eligible.
  • Not more than one-third of the short story or essay collections should have been previously published.
  • Entries may be in Standard English of Jamaican Creole.
  • Entries should be typed double-spaced in Courier, Helvetica or Times New Roman.
  • A fee of $2,000.00 for the Vic Reid and Jean D’Costa Awards and $4,000.00 for the Una Marson Award is applicable for each entry.
  • Entries must be submitted electronically to lignumvitaeawards@gmail.com
  • Manuscripts must be accompanied by
    1. a completed Entry Form
    2. a brief biographical statement; and
  • The entry fee of $2,000.00 or $4,000 must be made via manager’s Cheque or direct deposit to the JaWS account. Manager’s Cheque must be made payable to Jamaica Writers Society. Manager’s cheque should be sent to:
    Jamaican Writers Society Lignum Vitae Writing Awards 
    c/o Jamaican Copyright Licensing Agency
    17 Ruthven Road Building 1 Kingston 10

A copy of the lodgement slip can be submitted electronically to jamaicanwriters@cwjamaica.com

  • The entrant’s name should NOT appear on any page of the manuscript, but should be placed on a separate cover sheet.
  • Entries must be received on or before June 30, 2015.
  • The Lignum Vitae Writing Awards Committee reserves the right not to make an award if, in the opinion of the judges, the entries do not meet the desired standard.


  1. The judges will be appointed by JaWS
  2. Manuscripts will be evaluated for originality, craftsmanship, clarity of expression and use of language.
  3. The decision of the judges will be final.



  1. Shortlisted entrants will be announced September 2015
  2. Prize winners only will be notified by October 2015.
  3. Full results will be announced at the Awards Ceremony which will be held subsequently.
  4. The JaWS will, where possible, give assistance in finding a publisher for the Winning Entries.
  5. Prize winners and shortlisted entrants agree to submit photographs for the publicity or promotion of the Competition. Only the identity of shortlisted and prizewinning authors will be made public by the JaWS. Winners and shortlisted entrants also agree to make themselves available for interviews and other activities in association with the promotion of the awards.

For more information write to jamaicanwriters@cwjamaica.com or contact:

Jamaican Writers Society
JaWS Literary Competition
c/o Jamaican Copyright Licensing Agency
17 Ruthven Road Building 1 Kingston 10

or visit: http://www.jamaicanwriterssociety.wordpress .com or http://www.facebook.com/lignumvitaeawards

The Jamaican Writers Society Literary Competition –

  1. Entry Form – Lignum Vitae Awards
  2. Lignum Vitae Rules & Guidelines
  3. Lignum Vitae Press Launch Programme



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