Jamaican Writers: Feature on Louise Bennett, Ms. Lou

ms louLouise Simone Bennett-Coverley or Miss Lou, OM, OJ, MBE (7 September 1919 – 26 July 2006), was a Jamaican poet, folklorist, writer, and educator. Writing and performing her poems in what was known as Jamaican Patois or Creole, she was instrumental in having this “dialect” of the people given literary recognition in its own right (“nation language“). She is located at the heart of the Jamaican poetic tradition, and has influenced other popular Caribbean poets, including Mutabaruka, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Paul Keens-Douglas.

Miss Lou died on July 26, 2006 in Toronto. She was accorded an official funeral at the Coke Methodist Church, and interred at National Heroes Park beside her husband Eric “Chalk-Talk” Coverley.

List of Louise Bennett/Ms Lou poems:

  1. Dry Foot Bwoy
  2. Nuh Likkle Twang
  3. Back to Africa
  4. Social Climbing
  5. Scandal
  6. Colonization in Reverse
  7. Cuss-Cuss
  8. Candy Seller
  9. Street Bwoy
  10. perplex
  11. White Pickney
  12. Obeah win di war
  13. Pass fi white
  14. Votin Lis
  15. Bans o’ killing

Louise Bennett recordings are:

  1. Jamaica Singing Games (1953)
  2. Jamaican Folk Songs (Folkways Records, 1954)
  3. Children’s Jamaican Songs and Games (Folkways, 1957)
  4. Miss Lou’s Views (1967)
  5. Listen to Louise (1968)
  6. Carifesta Ring Ding (1976)
  7. The Honorable Miss Lou, (1981)
  8. Miss Lou Live-London (1983)
  9. Yes M’ Dear (Island Records) (1983)

Louise Bennett Awards and Honors:

  1. In 1960, made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire
  2. In 1974, appointed to the Order of Jamaica
  3. In 1974, appointed Cultural Ambassador at Large for Jamaica.
  4. received the Institute of Jamaica’s Musgrave Silver and Gold Medals
  5. the Norman Manley Award for Excellence (in the field of Arts),
  6. an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of the West Indies (1983),
  7. an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from York University, Toronto.[4]
  8.  in 2001, appointed as a Member of the Jamaican Order of Merit



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