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'Caribbean Writer' Contributor, Renowned Jamaican Author Joins UVI Faculty

The University of the Virgin Islands is proud to announce the addition of Jamaican author Opal Palmer Adisa to its teaching staff. Dr. Adisa, author of 14 books, describes herself as an accomplished storyteller in the Afro-Caribbean tradition. In addition to joining the UVI faculty as a part-time instructor, Adisa also has been appointed editor of The Caribbean Writer, UVI's anthology of Caribbean literature, which she, with her own talents, helped make famous.

The works of this Caribbean poet, educator and author appear in over 200 publications and have been praised as vivid and impassioned, filled with courage and integrity.

Born in Jamaica in 1954 to middle-class parents, Adisa traveled to New York at the age of 16, and enrolled in Hunter College (City University of New York) a few years later. For the next 20 years she pursued higher education, obtaining two masters degrees from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1992. By then she had already published four books.

Her first book, a children's story called Pina: The Many-Eyed Fruit, was published in 1986, followed by Bake Face and other Guava Stories that same year. A poetry collection entitled Traveling Women was published in 1989, then in 1992 Adisa produced her second book of poetry, Tamarind and Mango Women.

Recognition of Adisa's works has brought many awards, including three for works published in UVI's The Caribbean Writer, an annual showcase of the region's best literary talent. In 1995 the Virgin Islands Daily News awarded her its prize for best poems. The following year she won the top prize, the Canute A. Brodhurst Prize for Best Story for "the Brethren," and repeated that honor in 2004, winning best prize for "Conscious is the Same as Do Right."

In the late 1990s she was appointed to the Caribbean Writer's Advisor Editorial Board where she served for close to a decade.

In subsequent years, while broadening her academic background, Adisa published eleven more books; poetry collections in Leaf of Life (2000) and Caribbean Passion (2004). There was an essay about the inspiration to write in Eros Muse (2006) and reflections on the lives of Jamaican men in Until Judgement Comes (2007). She published an anthology of poetry and prose in 2008 called I Name Me Name. Most recently Adisa wrote Conscious Living, described as a chapbook, and selected poems and essays, Caribbean Erotica, both in 2009.

Her international studies have taken her to Egypt under a Fullbright Institute Bi-National fellowship. She also studied in Brazil at the Sacatar Institute. Before studying abroad she attended the McColl Center for Visual Arts in North Carolina and the Headlands Center for the Arts in California. Eventually she was named full professor of Creative Writing, Literature and Diversity Studies at the California College of the Arts in Sausalito, Calif.

A career formed with the written word also brought opportunities with the spoken word. Adisa has distinguished herself outside the classroom as a motivational speaker and as a broadcaster on Pacifica Radio station, KPFA-FM in Berkeley, Calif.

In the spring of 2010, Opal Palmer Adisa joins UVI Playwright-in-Residence Dr. Doug Larche, Artistic Director and Playwright-in-Residence of UVI Theatre, to teach the creative use of the written word.

Larche is a prolific playwright whose works are frequently staged. He is also a Senior American Fulbright Scholar and winner of several playwriting gold medals. Last spring, Larche wrote a play about a famous 18th century abolitionist, called "Truth on Trial: The Ballad of Sojourner Truth," performed as part of UVI's Little Theatre at Pistarckle Theater on St. Thomas.

Dr. Larche earned an MFA in Playwriting as a Norman Felton Fellow at the world-famous University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop and his Ph.D. from Indiana University. He did three post-doctoral residencies in dramatic writing, screenwriting and dramaturgy from Yale, Harvard and Oxford University in England. He was the founding artistic director of The Prairie Playwright Workshop and Festival of Original Drama at Grand View College, The Bards on the Bay Northwoods Playwrights Festival and the Workshop at Theatre on the Bay of the University of Wisconsin, Marinette.

This year Larche plans to include works from students taking part in the spring playwriting class in a playwrights festival called "Bards on the Beach: Playwrights in Paradise."

The UVI playwright-in-residence says he's looking forward to seeing what his class will produce. "Over a period of 13 years, we grew scores of writers, did nearly 200 public readings, and staged fully-mounted productions or readers theatre productions of nearly 80 world premieres, several of which went on to publication, production and to win festivals and the Ukrainian National Playwriting Prize." He continued, "I am very excited to hear the many Caribbean and other voices that will be brought to this common table - personal, historical, cultural, political, ethical - from folk tradition to magic realism to cutting edge issues and relationships - and the interplay of art forms, genres and media."