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Saluting Wayne Brown

By Basil Walters Observer writer waltersb@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 08, 2012    

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THE Poetry Society of Jamaica paid homage to Caribbean literary giant Wayne Brown at its recent monthly meeting in St Andrew.

Brown, a Trinidadian and former Jamaica Observer columnist, died in September 2009 at his St Andrew home. He was 65 years old.

In saluting his contribution to Jamaica's literary community, poets who came out of Brown's workshops under the auspices of this newspaper, recited their poems in tribute as well as some of those he wrote.

Among them was Jamaica Poetry Society president Tommy Ricketts.

"I personally consider it a honour to be able to host some kind of celebration of this man's work. Let's put it in context for those people who don't know Wayne Brown. Wayne Brown is the man who has ran the longest running, most dynamic, most productive workshop over a period of years," said Ricketts.

"At the same time this wasn't just a workshop, it was an opportunity for his voice to be heard by the whole Jamaican public," he added.

Following an open-mike session, Millicent Graham, who runs a workshop similar to Brown's, was the first performer. She read two of his poems including The Approach.

Another of Brown's proteges, Ann-Margaret Lim, gave a moving tribute. "If you are really serious about writing you should read Wayne Brown... Instead of writing more books, he decided to teach us what he knew. And that's why we appreciate him so much," she said to applause.

Nicholas Alexander also evoked the spirit of Wayne Brown with the poem The Mandate.

Brown was born July 18, 1944 in Port of Spain, Trinidad to a Trinidadian father and Barbadian mother.

He was a columnist, poet and fiction writer, as well as a teacher and mentor to numerous Caribbean writers.

Brown had lived in Jamaica since 1997. In 1998, he founded the Observer Literary Arts, a medium that exposed a new generation of Caribbean writers.

His books include Landscape with Heron (2000), Edna Manley: The Private Years (1976), Voyages (1989) and The Child of the Sea (1990).

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