Olive Senior was born and brought up in Jamaica and educated in Jamaica and Canada. She started her career as a journalist with the Daily Gleaner and later entered the world of publishing. She was editor of two of the Caribbean's leading journals - Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies and Jamaica Journal, published by Institute of Jamaica Publications of which she was also Managing Director. She left Jamaica in 1989, spent some years in Europe and since 1993 has been based in Toronto.
The Caribbean nevertheless remains the focus of her work, starting with her prizewinning collection of stories, Summer Lightning which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize followed by Arrival of the Snake-Woman and Discerner of Hearts. Her novel, Dancing Lessons was published by Cormorant Books in Canada 2011 and an illustrated children's book, Birthday Suit by Annick Press in 2012.
Her poetry books are Shell, (shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Award), Over the roofs of the world (shortlisted for Canada's Governor-General's Literary Award and Cuba's Casa de las Americas Prize), Gardening in the Tropics (winner of the F.J. Bressani Literary Prize), and Talking of Trees.
Olive Senior's non-fiction works on Caribbean culture include the A-Z of Jamaican Heritage, Working Miracles: Women's Lives in the English-Speaking Caribbean and The Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage.
Her work has been widely taught in schools and universities internationally. Summer Lightning has been a literature textbook in Caribbean schools and Gardening in the Tropics has been a poetry textbook for the CAPE syllabus as well the International baccalaureate.
Olive Senior has worked internationally as a creative writing teacher and lecturer on Caribbean literature and culture. She is on the faculty of the Humber School for Writers, Toronto and has taught in the writing programmes at University of Toronto, St Lawrence University, and Barnard College, Columbia University, New York. She has also led writing workshops at the University of Miami, the University of the West Indies, and in the Bahamas, Bermuda, the USA, UK and France and other places.
Photo credit: Caroline Forbes