Caribbean Community mourns the loss of three major Caribbean literary figures

Greater Georgetown, Guyana – The Caribbean Community has lost, in one week, three major literary figures: Jamaica’s Trevor Rhone, Suriname’s Henk Tjon and Trinidad and Tobago’s Wayne Brown. While Rhone and Tjon were both multi-talented, regionally and internationally acclaimed theatre artists, Wayne Brown was an acclaimed poet, creative writing teacher, short story writer, critic and journalist.

Trevor Rhone passed away on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at the age of 69. He was known for his mastery as a playwright, exploring the experiences of ordinary people, from urban to rural, which was represented in his work. He was co-author with the late Perry Henzell of the timeless Jamaican film, The Harder They Come, and authored the Jamaican plays, Smile Orange and Old Story Time, the latter of which has become a classic studied by students across the Region for CXC – CSEC examinations. Through his exceptional talents as playwright, director and actor, Trevor contributed extensively to the cultural development of Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Henk Tjon passed away on Friday, September 18, 2009, at the age of 61. As the co-founder of the Doe-theatre, founder and artistic director of the National Theatre of Suriname and the Alakondre Dron Music Ensemble, his critical role and influence in the cultural development of Suriname has been tremendous. Henk was passionate about CARIFESTA and the cultural integration of the region. He actively participated in every CARIFESTA since its inception in 1972, and served seven times as designer and artistic director of Suriname’s cultural contingent to CARIFESTA and as Artistic Director of the CARIFESTA VIII held in Suriname.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Wayne Brown died on the same day as Trevor Rhone at the age of 65. His literary career encompassed his work as one of the leading poets of the Caribbean; short story writer and newspaper columnist. He is best known for his prize-winning anthology “On the Coast” and as the biographer of the Jamaican sculptress Edna Manley, wife of the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Honourable Norman Manley. His biting and often trenchant weekly columns in the Trinidad Express and Jamaica Observer newspapers earned him the admiration of many in the Region.

Brown made Jamaica his home where he made a lasting contribution to the mentoring, training and development of scores of writers both young and old through his writing workshops. Such was his influence that many went on register for and earn MFA degrees from prestigious US universities and to be published internationally. More than any other single person, Wayne Brown was responsible for the development of a new generation of writers in Jamaica.

The Caribbean Community applauds the excellent artistic contribution of these great cultural icons and mourns their deaths which have undoubtedly created a void in the continued development of the Region’s culture.

The Caribbean Community Secretariat wishes to extend its sincere condolences to the families of Trevor Rhone, Henk Tjon and Wayne Brown on their loss and to the Governments and peoples of Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

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