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Cover of Rayon Lennon's poetry book. Barrel Children in Jamaica opening up a barrel sent by a parent working in the United States of America.

Blueliner school bus in Jamaica
Blueliner school bus in Jamaica

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1/22

RAYON LENNON

        Poet (Email: Mrwrite25@gmail.com]

Publications and Awards

Poetry Book

Poems

Fiction

  • “Croon,” Folio, 2009

  • “Mona,” Folio, 2008  

  • “God’s Son,” The Connecticut Review, Spring 2007

  • “Barrel Children,” Folio, 2007

  • “The Letterer,” Folio, 2007

  • “Tiny Locks,” Folio, 2006

 

Writing Awards

  • "I, Stutter," 1st place, Rattle’s Poets Respond Contest, April, 2019

  • Barrel Children, Finalist for 2017 Connecticut Book Award for best poetry book

  • “Heard,” 1st place, Rattle Poetry Prize, September 2017

  • “Heard”, Pushcart Prize Nomination, Rattle, Fall 2017

  • “Sky Beer,” 1st place, Rattle’s Poets Respond Contest, August, 2015

  • “Gilbert,” 1st place, Noctua Review Poetry Contest, Fall 2015

  • “400 Years Later,” 1st place, Noctua Review Poetry Contest, Fall 2014

  • “The Exile Flies Home to Trout Hall, Jamaica,” 1st place, Folio Poetry Contest, 2009

  • “Chapelton, Jamaica,” 1st place, Folio Poetry Contest, 2008

  • “Seaview Gardens,” 1st place, Folio Poetry Contest, 2007 

  • “Mona,”Folio Fiction Contest, 1st place, 2008

  • “Mona,” 1st place, SCSU Fiction Contest, 2008

  • “God’s Son,” 1st place, CSU Connecticut Review Non-Fiction Contest, 2006

  • “Riverman,” 1st place, SCSU Fiction Contest, 2007

  • SCSU Poetry Contest, 2nd Place, 2007

  • “Croon,” 2nd Place, CSU Connecticut Review Fiction Contest, 2008

 

Barrel Children of Jamaica Project

 

The term Barrel Children refers to, in particular, children in Jamaica whose parents--compelled by socal and economic challenges--choose to leave their children behind in Jamaica to pursue economic opportunities in other countries (particularly the United States of America, Canada and England). These parents then send back barrels full of food and clothes and other items to their children.

 

Scope of the Problem

 

In my hometown back in Jamaica, nearly everyone dreamed of going overseas to America. It was the promised land for work and social mobility. An estimated 2.8 million people live in Jamaica as of 2008 (Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia, 2014). Between 2010 and 2013 nearly 80, 000 Jamaicans emigrated from Jamaica to America (Poyser, 2013). There is an estimated 1 million Jamaicans living in the United States (Yearwood, E., 2001). The data are telling. Jamaicans are leaving their homeland at an alarming rate. They are leaving to seek economic and social opportunities in America (and in other countries). The exact figure of children left behind in Jamaica by emigrating parents is inexact, but it is thought to be in the tens of thousands (Larmer & Moses, 1996). “This phenomenon can be found in almost any country with heavy emigration, from Mexico to China. But it is especially acute in the Caribbean. Nearly 30 percent of all Jamaicans now live in the United States, and the newest arrivals are often women trying to provide for their children” (Larmer & Moses, 1996).     

 

This project aims to raise awareness about this phenomenon as well as provide a forum for discussion and resources for Barrel Children and their parents. 

 

This site will feature poetry, stories and other accounts 

of the experiences of Barrel Children.

My poem, "Heard," won the 2017 Rattle Poetry Prize. 

I am currently working on a new book of poems called Heard; and a verse novel called Four Paths

My first book of poems, Barrel Children (a finalist for the 2017 Connecticut Book Award for best poetry book), is out from Main Street Rag Publishing Company. You can buy it here:

http://mainstreetragbookstore.com/?product=barrel-children

My poetry and fiction detailing my journey as a Barrel Child have appeared in The Main Street Rag, StepAway Magazine, The African American Review, The Connecticut River Review, The Indianapolis Review, Noctua Review, The Connecticut Review, Rattle and Callaloo

You can check out a list of my publications and awards by clicking the Word Document link below. 

My name is Rayon Lennon. I'm an award-wining poet and clinical therapist. I am also a Barrel Child. I was born in Chapelton, Jamaica. I grew up in Trout Hall, a rural town known for producing oranges. When I was 13, I moved to New Haven County, Connecticut to live with my father who had immigrated to the United States of America when I was born. I hold a B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing from Southern Connecticut State University. I also hold a master's degree in social work. 

To improve the physical and psychological well-being of children left behind in Jamaica by migrating parent.