Dr Richard Georges was appointed the first Poet Laureate of the British Virgin Islands on November 20, 2020.
The British Virgin Islands are a British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean, to the east of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and north-west of Anguilla. The territory appointed its first poet laureate in a ceremony at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College at Paraquita Bay this past Friday.
Richard Georges is a writer of essays, fiction, and three collections of poetry. His most recent book, Epiphaneia (2019), won the 2020 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, and his first book, Make Us All Islands (2017), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. His second book, Giant (2018), was highly commended by the Forward Prizes and longlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize.
Richard is a recipient of a Fellowship from the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study and has been listed or nominated for several other prizes, including the Hollick Arvon Caribbean Writers Prize, the Wasafiri New Writing Prize, and a Pushcart Prize. He works in higher education and lives on Tortola with his wife and children.
Speaking during the ceremony, Dr Georges said: “While this is a great personal milestone, I believe what is more important is what portends for the undreamt future, that we are beginning to acknowledge the position and importance of the arts in the development of the society. It must be stated that the role of a poet laureate is not a symbolic one, that it questions not so much the merit of the individual who receives the award, but more so their capability in fulfilling the functions that are before them.”
Dr Georges, who is also the President of the H Lavity Stoutt Community College, urged the government and the Department of Culture to continue to put the necessary mechanisms in place to propel literary arts in the BVI.