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Trevor Rhone, Wayne Brown are dead

Wednesday, September 16, 2009    

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Jamaican playwright and screenwriter Trevor Rhone, as well as literary scholar Wayne Vincent Brown, the former editor of the Jamaica Observer's Literary Arts magazine and Sunday Observer columnist, died yesterday.

Rhone, 69, died from a heart attack, while Brown, who was 65, lost a long battle with cancer.

Rhone, who co-wrote the Jamaican cult classic film, The Harder They Come, will also be remembered for his theatre productions Smile Orange and Milk and Honey, which were both made into feature films, as well as for his stage production Old Story Time.

Yesterday, the House of Representatives acknowledged his passing. Prime Minister Bruce Golding, in extending condolences to Rhone's family, said Rhone was "one of the most accomplished and outstanding of Jamaica's playwrights and directors".

Member of parliament for South East St Ann and Opposition spokeswoman on information and youth Lisa Hanna, said it was hoped that the Government would find an appropriate way of honouring the cultural icon.

"Sixty-nine is not long in the innings, but he has really left an indelible imprint on us here in Jamaica," Hanna said.

Brown, was born on July 18, 1944, in Trinidad, the only child of a Barbadian mother who died shortly after childbirth and a Trinidadian father, Kenneth Vincent Brown, who was a well-regarded puisne judge.

Wayne Brown adopted Jamaica as his home, living on and off here after graduating from the University of the West Indies, before finally settling down in the island in 1997. In 1998, as a result of his dedication to seeing literature promoted in the Jamaican press, he began the Observer Literary Arts magazine, a weekly publication that both inspired and spawned an awakening in the literary arts and saw the emergence of a new generation of writers and poets, both locally and from the wider Caribbean, including the likes of Andrew 'Kei' Miller, Millicent Graham, Sharon Leach, Frances Coke, Julia Rypinski, and Gwyneth Barber Wood.

Brown will also be remembered as a poet, memoirist, journalist and creative writing teacher. He was the author of two books of poetry, the Commonwealth Prize winner On the Coast (1972) and Voyages (1989); two collections of short stories and remembrances, Child of the Sea (1990) and Landscape with Heron, published by the Observer in 2000.

In 1976, Brown published Edna Manley: The Private Years, a biography of the late National Hero Norman Manley's artist wife and mother of late Prime Minister Michael Manley. He also edited several books of poetry, including the Heinemann Caribbean collection Derek Walcott: Selected Poetry (1981) and the Bearing Witness anthologies, published by the Jamaica Observer. His first collection, On the Coast, is scheduled for re-publication by Peepal Tree Press, which is also slated to publish a new collection of stories and remembrances, The Scent of the Past.

Brown's weekly column, In Our Time, which appeared for years in the Sunday Observer, was a hit with many Jamaican readers who devoured his full-bodied commentary on a range of topics, always delivered in sophisticated prose and dry wit. The column, which had its genesis in Trinidad at the Trinidad Express, also appeared in the Guyanese press.

His final writing engagement had been a weekly column, In the Obama Era, for the Express, the Barbados Nation and Guyana's Stabroek News.

Divorced from his wife Megan Hopkyn-Rees in 1981, he is survived by his two daughters, Mariel and Saffrey, and his partner, Mignon Manderson-Jones.

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