Tanya Shirley

marlene lopez

Tanya Shirley is a startlingly bold writer with a particular gift for highlighting the telling detail in her vivid and arresting poems, which variously contain portraits of lovers, colorful eccentrics and family snapshots that capture the elusive magic of childhood memories, and reveal those paradoxical truths which all families strive to conceal. Born in Jamaica, Shirley graduated from the University of the West Indies, Mona, where she now teaches. She was awarded an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland and has published work in journals like Small Axe, the Caribbean Writer, and in New Caribbean Poetry: An Anthology (ed. Kei Miller) and So Much Things to Say: 100 Calabash Poets. She is a Cave Canem fellow and has participated in Callaloo Creative Writing Workshops and, more recently, read and taught at “Narrating the Caribbean Nation”, a conference-cum-festival held in the UK to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Peepal Tree Press. Her debut collection, She Who Sleeps With Bones, was a Jamaican bestseller in 2009, which reflects both the popular appeal and literary merit attached to these unusually frank and often highly personal poems. In her latest collection, The Merchant of Feathers (Caribbean Modern Classics) (Peepal Tree Press) longlisted for the 2015 Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, is full of poems that have their finger on the pulse of contemporary Jamaica in all its exuberance and brokenness.