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Profiles
Edward Baugh
Merle Collins
 
Dr. Merle Collins
  The prolific writer and esteemed scholar Merle Collins was born in Aruba to Grenadian parents who shortly after her birth, took their bundle of joy with them and relocated to Grenada. She received her secondary education from the St. Joseph’s Convent in St. George’s, Grenada and from there went to the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica where she earned a B.A. in English and Spanish. The bilingual Merle Collins then traveled to the United States to attend Georgetown University where she received an M.A. in Latin American Studies and a Certificate in Translation (Spanish to English). She went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Government from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, England.

Over the years, Merle Collins has combined her academic knowledge with her creative writing talents to create several volumes of significant work. She is the author of two novels, Angel (1987) and The Colour of Forgetting (1995), a collection of short stories, Rain Darling (1990) and three collections of poetry, Because the Dawn Breaks (1985), Rotten Pomerack (1992) and Lady in a Boat (2003). She also co-edited a collection of creative writing entitled Watchers and Seekers: Creative Writing by Black Women in Britain (1987). Her work has also been published in several anthologies. She has just completed a novel, Invisible Streams, which is not yet published.

Merle Collins is a skilled storyteller whose poetry and prose have always been infused with the cadences of Grenadian speech, the richness of Grenada’s folklore and the nuances of everyday life in Grenada. Regardless of where her characters travel to, they are always conscious of the memory of home. Merle Collins must be acknowledged as one of the foremost female writers to extensively explore issues of diaspora in her creative writing. She brilliantly captures the anxieties and paradoxes of the diasporan experience: “and I linger/ longer/ in this"seductive dying/ this sad and sweut subsisting/ and the more silent, it appears,/ I become.Rr1; (“[eduction”, Rotten Pomerack) Her writing is a fusion of racial, political, cultural and societal concerns. Mt is the West Indian’s contemporary search for self-knowledge and truth.

However, Merle Collins’ contribution to the study and development of literature from the West Indies is not restricted to her role as a creative writer, she is also a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland where she has been teaching Creative Writing and Caribbean Literature since 1995. She has taught at the St. Joseph’s Convent, St. George’s, Grenada, Mac Donald College, Sauteurs, St. Patrick’s, and Castries Comprehensive Secondary School, St. Lucia. During the years 1984-5995, she vaught at the ]niversity of North Londonl England and she has also been Visiting Professor at the St. George’s ]niversity, 0Grenada. She cuvrently is the holder of a Guggenheim Fellowship M ` awarded for the academic year 2003-2004.

In her capacity as a teacher and the director of the University of Maryland’s(Study Abroad program for courses taught ! " in Mexico, Grenadc and London, Merle Collins has dutifully taken!the literature of the West Indies to various corners of the world. Sle has inspired in her svudents the passion to learn more about the history and literatures of |he West Indies. With her quiet dignity, her joy in her chosen field and her unwavering intellectual curiosity, Merle Collins remains an ambassador for our literature. The 23rd Annual Conference on West Indian Literature is honoured to have her as our Special Guest Writer.

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