Place of birth
Place of residence
United States of America
National identity
United States of America

Jacqueline Bishop

Short biography
Jacqueline Bishop is an award-winning photographer, painter and writer born and raised in Jamaica, who now lives and works in New York City

Jacqueline Bishop is the author of a novel, The River’s Song, two collections of poems, Fauna, and Snapshots from Istanbul, an art book, Writers Who Paint... Three Jamaican Artists, and most recently, The Gymnast and other Positions, a collection of short stories, essays and interviews, which won the non-fiction award in  2016 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature.

Jacqueline Bishop was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Her parents separated early in her life, and she lived for many years with her mother and (then three) siblings, but lived with her father for several years when her mother migrated to the United States. She grew up in the capital city of Kingston, but as a child spent her summer holidays in the small district of Nonsuch, deep in the mountains of Portland. In Nonsuch she moved easily among the homes of her (maternal) great grandparents, her grand parents and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. Nonsuch, at that time, was a place of 'no electricity' and she passed many remarkable evenings on the verandah of her great grandparents home, listening to the stories and folk legends of Jamaica, a prominent feature of her creative work. 

Shortly after completing Holy Childhood High School, Ms. Bishop joined her mother in the United States to begin college. She attended Lehman College, City University of New York, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. As a junior at Lehman College, she spent a summer studying French in Montréal, Canada, at Concordia University; and a year living in Paris, France and attending the L’Université de Paris. Although she had always written creatively for several years, and had her first works published very early in her life, it was in France, a 'reading culture', that she started to harbor the thought of becoming a writer. 

In 1996 Ms. Bishop obtained a James Michener Creative Writing Fellowship to the Caribbean Writers Summer Institute at the University of Miami, where she studied poetry with Lorna Goodison. That fall, she started a Master’s Degree in poetry writing at New York University, studying with, among others, the poets Sharon Olds, who served as her thesis advisor; Deborah Digges and the late William Matthews. In 1997 she received five creative writing awards from the Cultural Development Commission in Kingston, Jamaica, for fiction and poetry writing. She subsequently won three additional creative writing awards in 1998. She obtained her (first) Master’s Degree in 1998. 

In 1997 Ms. Bishop also received a scholarship to the Oral History Summer Program at Columbia University and, in 1998, an Oral History Association Conference Fellowship to New Orleans, Louisiana, for her oral histories on Jamaican women living in New York City. These oral histories were published by Africa World Press in June 2006 as, My Mother Who Is Me: Lifestories from Jamaican Women in New York.

Ms. Bishop was accepted back into the Creative Writing program at NYU to pursue a (second) Master’s of Fine Arts degree in fiction writing, which she received in September, 2000. She studied fiction with, among others, Paule Marshall, André Aciman, Mary Gaitskill and Irini Spanidou. She published several short stories in various publications; and her thesis, a novel, The River’s Song, was published by Peepal Tree Press (Leeds) in 2007. 

Ms. Bishop is also an accomplished visual artist with exhibitions in Europe, North Africa, the United States and Jamaica. She writes a monthly article exploring women and visual culture for the Huffington Post and does a series of interviews with artists and art professionals for the Observer Arts Magazine. Jacqueline Bishop has twice been awarded Fulbright Fellowships, including a year-long grant to Morocco and again as a UNESCO/Fulbright fellow to France. She teaches in the Liberal Studies Program at New York University, and is the founding editor of Calabash: A Journal of Caribbean Art & Letters. She is the author of a novel, The River’s Song, two collections of poems, Fauna, and Snapshots from Istanbul, an art book, Writers Who Paint... Three Jamaican Artists, and most recently, The Gymnast and other Positions, a collection of short stories, essays and interviews.