Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Obituary Note: Derek Walcott


Derek Walcott, the Caribbean poet and playwright who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, died last Friday. He was 87.

The New York Times said that Walcott's "intricately metaphorical poetry captured the physical beauty of the Caribbean, the harsh legacy of colonialism and the complexities of living and writing in two cultural worlds.... [Walcott's] expansive universe revolved around a tiny sun, the island of St. Lucia. Its opulent vegetation, blinding white beaches and tangled multicultural heritage inspired, in its most famous literary son, an ambitious body of work that seemingly embraced every poetic form, from the short lyric to the epic."

Among those works were Omeros, the Homeric epic poem considered by many to be his masterpiece; In a Green Night: Poems 1948-1960; and the play Dream on Monkey Mountain, which won an Obie. He was also a painter and watercolorist, whose pieces illustrated some of his work, and received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" award.

In the poem Islands, he wrote:

I seek,
As climate seeks its style, to write
Verse crisp as sand, clear as sunlight,
Cold as the curled wave, ordinary
As a tumbler of island water.

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