A giant of world literature and son of the Caribbean, Nobel Laureate Sir Derek Walcott has died. Details are slim at this time. But this link at St. Lucia News Online is one of several in his homeland announcing his passing. Will share more links in this space as they become available.
Walk good, Sir.
UPDATES as they come:
“His monumental poetry, including 1973’s verse autobiography, Another Life, and his Caribbean reimagining of The Odyssey, 1990’s Omeros, secured him an international reputation which gained him the Nobel prize in 1992. But this was matched by a theatrical career conducted mostly in the islands of his birth as a director and writer with more than 80 plays to his credit.
“For the Jamaican poet Kei Miller, Walcott’s most important contribution was perhaps his assertion of his Caribbean identity and his confidence that this identity was enough to encompass all of human experience.
““Walcott always insisted that he was a Caribbean writer,” Miller said, “and that this wasn’t a limit, that it didn’t make his work parochial. I always say I want to write a large literature from a small place, and it is Walcott who embodies that attitude more than anyone else.” While the colonial experience was terrible, he continued, Walcott argued that it gave him “the language that was his kingdom. His poetry was supremely ambitious. He was taking on Shakespeare, he was taking on Chaucer, he was taking on Dante – all of these were his forefathers and he thought of himself as equal to them. This is what great writing was and this is what he wanted to produce … he wanted to stand alongside them.”” – The Guardian (UK)
“He had a sense of the Caribbean’s grandeur that inspired him to write “Omeros,” a transposed Homeric epic of more than 300 pages, published in 1990, with humble fishermen and a taxi driver standing in for the heroes of ancient Greece.
“Two years later, he was awarded the Nobel Prize. The prize committee cited him for “a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment.”
“It continued: “In his literary works Walcott has laid a course for his own cultural environment, but through them he speaks to each and every one of us. In him, West Indian culture has found its great poet.”” – The New York Times (US)
‘The appointment was announced May 1, 2009, and he would begin teaching in September. I wanted to plan a syllabus immediately, but had a very hard time reaching him to find out how he envisioned a creative writing course. His fax machine—there was no email account—was offline, and no one answered the phone at his home in St. Lucia. I wrote letters. Then packets. A postal clerk wept when she couldn’t find St. Lucia on her computer. “Is it a US island?” In August, a fax came from New York, where he was spending the summer. It was just a handwritten list of authors: he wanted me to order editions of Thomas Hardy, Edward Thomas, W. H. Auden, Hart Crane, and Philip Larkin. He also wanted to include George Meredith’s Victorian-era novel in verse, Modern Love, a book that I had never read. He did not include a creative writing textbook. Nor did he tell me what he would do in the course. I had a month to submit a rush order for books.’ – The Stranger who has loved You by Bert Almon in The Walrus (Canada)
“For my A levels, we are doing Selected Poems by Derek Walcott, edited by Wayne Brown. For a whole year my eyes follow a girl with the most beautifully sculpted face — a finely wrought jaw that produced a jut in her lower lip that seemed to make something elegant of her. Not a girl I was attracted to, or had strong intentions of courting as I think of it now, but as a kind of sculpture, a place where the marks, or style of Creation were visible. Where Creation began to smile to itself and try things, new things with the faces it sculpted. I read it as (or wanted it to be) infatuation at the time. Like Walcott’s beauty, in “The Light of the World”. I had infused her with other loves and impulses of mine. I had forced onto her the weight of symbol for so many interwoven needs.” – Growing Up Under Walcott by Vladimir Lucien on the Peepal Tree Press blog
As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, Musical Youth, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight 10th Anniversary Edition and Other Writings, and With Grace; also a freelance writer, editor, writing coach and workshop facilitator). Excerpting, reblogging, linking etc. is fine, but PLEASE do not lift ANY content (images or text) wholesale from this site without asking first and crediting the creator of that work and/or copyright holder. All Rights Reserved. If you like the content here follow or recommend the blog, also, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. Thank you.