Olive Marjorie Senior
(b. 1941 in Trelawny, Jamaica) is a Jamaican poet and short story writer currently living in Canada.
She went to Montego Bay High School For Girls, then at age 19 joined the staff of the Jamaica Gleaner
in Kingston. She later won a scholarship to study journalism in Cardiff, Wales, and then at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. While at University she began writing fiction and poetry. On her return to Jamaica, she worked as a journalist before joining the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of the West Indies, where she edited the journal Social and Economic Studies
. In 1982 she joined the Institute of Jamaica as editor of the Jamaica Journal
. She also oversaw the publication of a number of books on Jamaican history and culture.
After Hurricane Gilbert hit Jamaica in 1988, Senior moved to Europe, where she lived for short periods in Portugal, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, before settling in Canada in the early 1990s. She returns to Jamaica almost every year.
Senior has published three collections of poems: Talking of Trees
(1985), Gardening in the Tropics
(1994), and Over the Roofs of the World
(2005). Her short story collection Summer Lightning
(1986) won the Commonwealth Writers Prize; it was followed by Arrival of the Snake Woman
(1989, 2009) and Discerner of Hearts
Her non-fiction works include The Message Is Change
(1972), about Michael Manley's first election victory; A-Z of Jamaican Heritage
(1984, expanded and republished as Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage
in 2004); and Working Miracles: Women's Lives in the English-Speaking Caribbean
Senior's work often addresses questions of Caribbean identity in terms of gender and ethnicity. She has said: "I've had to deal with race because of who I am and how I look. In that process, I've had to determine who I am. I do not think you can be all things to all people. As part of that process, I decided I was a Jamaican. I represent many different races and I'm not rejecting any of them to please anybody. I'm just who I am and you have to accept me or not."
In 2005, Senior was awarded a Musgrave Gold Medal by the Institute of Jamaica for her contributions to literature.
Interviews published in the Jamaica Gleaner
- October 31, 2004
- November 7, 2004