Guyanese literary icon Michael Gilkes dies at 86

Screen Shot 2020-04-15 at 10.28.37 AM.pngFrom The Guyana Chronicle:

FAMOUS Guyanese playwright and author, Michael Gilkes has died.

Reports are that Gilkes, who lived in the United Kingdom, contracted the coronavirus and died of complications in London. He was 87.

Gilkes’ last major project here was the movie “Maira and the Jaguar People”, a film which was set in the Rupununi in 2016.

The shoot was held in Surama, a predominantly Macushi village in the North Rupununi, where the story is set.

The production team included famed Cuban visual artist and director of photography, Omar Estrada and his crew, who flew in to capture the film on location.

During the shoot, the residents of Surama reportedly benefitted directly from the production of the film, since they were actively involved in the technical and casting aspects of the production. The film was released in 2017.

Gilkes is a distinguished Caribbean critic, dramatist and former lecturer at several Universities, and more recently, a filmmaker.

His critical work includes ‘Wilson Harris and the Caribbean Novel (1975)’; ‘The Literate Imagination (1989)’, which is also about Harris; and ‘The West Indian Novel, Twayne’.

His play, ‘Couvade’, was published by Cape in 1974, while ‘A Pleasant Career’, a play about the life and work of Edgar Mittelholzer, won the prestigious Guyana Prize for Drama in 1992. ‘Joanstown’ won the 2002 Guyana Prize for best book of poetry. He won the 2006 Guyana Prize for drama with his play, ‘The Last of the Redmen’.

A brief obituary by Denis Chabrol for the Demerara Waves.

Guyanese poet, actor, playwright, director, and literary critic, Michael Gilkes, passed away on Tuesday morning after spending three nights in the intensive care unit fighting the Covid-19 coronavirus in England.

He died at the age of 86.

Dr Gilkes will be remembered for his meaningful contribution to the theatre industry in Guyana, the Caribbean and other parts of the world. His last work was a film called “Maira and the Jaguar People”. It was directed and produced by him in collaboration with the Makushi community of Surama. North Rupununi, Guyana.

Dr. Vibert Cambridge of the Guyana Cultural Association gave a tribute saying, “It is with sadness that we share this announcement. Dr. Michael Gilkes was among the first of our awardees. Thanks for all you gave. R.I.P Michael.”

From Peepal Tree Press:

Born in Guyana in 1935, Michael Gilkes taught at the University of Guyana, the University of the West Indies in Barbados for many years and at the Sir Arthur Lewis community College in St. Lucia. He had recently been a Quillian Visiting Professor at Randolph-Macon Women’s College.

He was a distinguished Caribbean critic, dramatist and lecturer and more recently a film maker. His critical work includes his Wilson Harris and the Caribbean Novel, (1975), The Literate Imagination (Ed.) (also on Harris) and The West Indian Novel, Twayne, forthcoming. His play, Couvade, was published by Cape in 1974. A Pleasant Career, a play about the life and fiction of Edgar Mittelholzer, won the prestigious Guyana Prize for Drama in 1992.

Joanstown won the 2002 Guyana Prize for best book of poetry. He won the 2006 Guyana Prize for drama with his play The Last of the Redmen.

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