The publication of Miss Lou: Louise Bennett and Jamaican Culture in March 2014 by Ian Randall Publishers coincided with Professor Morris’ appointment as Poet Laureate of Jamaica, the first since the country’s independence. Miss Lou: Louise Bennett and Jamaican Culture is both a biography and a critical assessment of the work of a woman often referred to as the “face” of Jamaican culture: Louise Bennett-Coverley—poet, performer, storyteller, singer, actress, writer, broadcaster, folklorist, and TV show host—whose work underscores the importance of Creole language in Jamaica.
Professor Morris could be characterized as the quintessential Louise Bennett scholar. In 1963 he published “On Reading Louise Bennett, Seriously,” and edited/published her Selected Poems in 1982, as well as her radio monologues, Aunty Roachy Sey (1993). This new book on Miss Lou promises to be delightful as it sheds light on this cultural icon. Professor Morris’ scholarship is wide and far-reaching. In addition to works on Louise Bennett, he counts among his numerous publications ‘Is English We Speaking' and Other Essays (1999), Making West Indian Literature (2005), and six books of poetry, including I Been There, Sort Of (2006).
Appointed Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing and West Indian Literature at the University of the West Indies, Mona, in 2003, Professor Morris has taught in the Department of Literatures in English since 1970, and became Head of the Department (1979-82; 1988-91) and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts and General Studies (1987-89). He has also been a Visiting Lecturer/Professor and Writer-in-Residence at various Universities in the UK and the USA.
Professor Morris’ other accomplishments and awards include: MCOBA Hall of Fame (2013), CPTC Cultural Medal of Honour (2012), Order of Merit, Jamaica (2009), Silver Musgrave Medal for Poetry (Institute of Jamaica, 1976), and the 1958 Rhodes Scholarship (1957). University Research Days 2015 provides the perfect platform to showcase Professor Morris’ scholarship and talent. Story-teller Amina Blackwood-Meeks as well as dub poets Oku Onuora, Jean Binta Breeze and Mutaburaka will perform in tribute to the Poet Laureate on the occasion of this launch event. Professor Emeritus Edward Baugh will be the launch speaker. The event is open to the public.