Like so many others in the world of Caribbean letters, the Bocas Lit Fest team are shocked and deeply saddened at the death of Gordon Rohlehr (1942–2023), literary scholar, cultural commentator, intellectual mentor, and emeritus professor at the University of the West Indies. He was a beloved teacher and a public intellectual in the best sense, known for his deeply informed and insightful writings on calypso, on West Indian poetry, and especially on the work of Kamau Brathwaite. Prof. Rohlehr was a regular participant on the Bocas Lit Fest stage over the years, and it was an honour for us when he accepted the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award for Distinguished Service to Caribbean Letters back in 2014.
We send our condolences to his family, his friends, and the many readers who were informed and provoked and delighted over the decades by his essays and books. He was a towering presence both physically and intellectually, and the only consolation for his loss is the extraordinary archive of his scholarship, always elegantly and accessibly written, that he has left us.
At the 2019 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, we were thrilled to host the launch of his book of essays Perfected Fables Now: A Bookman Signs Off on Seven Decades, which turned into a laughter-filled tribute to Prof. Rohlehr, including readings and calypso. Watch it here: