On Monday July 18, at 5:30pm, Bookophilia is hosting the launch of two titles, from legendary poet, memoirist, journalist, literary scholar and creative writing teacher, the late Wayne Vincent Brown.
The two collections, On the Coast and other Poems, and The Scent of the Past and other Stories, were posthumously published by Peepal Tree Press in November 2010 and May 2011 respectively.
The evening will see Professor Mervyn Morris, Dr. Kim Walcott, Professor Edward Baugh and others read fiction and poetry in honour of this literary great, with musical musings for Jazz Musician Sereste Small.
Wayne Brown’s On the Coast was first published in 1972, and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation in the UK, establishing him as one of the finest young poets of the post-Walcott generation. It was followed in 1988 by Voyages, a collection that showed the maturing of Brown’s remarkable gifts
This edition, published in November 2010, restores the original text of the 1972 edition and adds the new poems first published in the later collection.
Wayne Brown’s poems approach the issues of creativity, finding meaning, finding contentment and the threats to these human goals through poems about Caribbean through anecdote, frequently drawing on family life; through poems about favourite artists; through reflecting on the rewards and pain of remaining in the Caribbean compared to the loss suffered by those writers and artists who left the islands.
Brown’s work has been seminal in Caribbean poetry, both for its intrinsic qualities, and for his crucial role as a mentor of a current generation of Caribbean poets.
If one wanted to find out what Trinidad and the Caribbean have been like in the last decades of the 20th century, there would be no better place to look than the stories in this collection.
Whilst many of the writers of his generation reconstructed the Caribbean world from distance and memory, publishing primarily for a metropolitan audience, Brown’s stories began as publications in his weekly newspaper column with a very substantial popular audience. But there is nothing ephemeral about this work, because Brown invested these pieces with all a major poet’s delight in the power of language and with a craftsman’s meticulous concern for their structure as short stories.
Frequently, the line between fiction and actuality is deliberately blurred as Brown invokes the shaping light of memory to resurrect the people and places he had known or loved (or merely imagined).
What the reader encounters in the collection is Brown’s striking ability to portray people and tell stories that are particular and unique, but which cohere to form an unrivalled portrait of a rapidly changing society.