Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Muse: Derek Walcott

For every poet, it is always morning in the world.
~ Derek Walcott

The preeminent poet, Nobel Laureate, and playwright Derek Walcott (1930-2017) died last month at the age of 87. It is especially fitting during National Poetry Month to remember this great and gifted poet, whose work the writer Teju Cole has described as "written with a painterly hand, stroke by patient stroke."*

For those unfamiliar with Walcott's work, one of the best introductions to the man and his writing is the video interview below, "The Sea Is History, A Conversation with Derek Walcott", which was conducted in November 2010 at Hart House Theatre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Walcott reads from his work and discusses his life and views on identity, culture, and language with English professor Christian Campbell. 

Another good interview is Bill Moyers's "Derek Walcott — A Conversation with the Great Caribbean-Born Writer", part of the series A World of Ideas. The poet's comments about "America as empire" and "the black man's dream" are notable for their currency today. Walcottt also reads from his poetry. A transcription is available at the link. Here's a video excerpt from that interview, in which Walcott talks about the human condition:


Walcott's poetry collections include his debut book 25 Poems (1948) and his final Morning, Paramin (Farrar, Straus, 2016). Between those two works, he published more than two dozen other volumes, among them, In a Green Night: Poems (1962; later, In a Green Night: Poems 1948-1960, 1969), The Caribbean Poetry of Derek Walcott and the Art of Romare Beardon (1983), Omeros (1990), several compilations of selected poems, including The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013, and White Egrets (2010). Walcott published in a wide range of literary periodicals, from Caribbean Quarterly to Poetry to Tamarack Review. He wrote some three dozen plays, one of which, Dream on Monkey Mountain, was awarded with an Obie Award. In addition to his 1992 Nobel Prize, Walcott received a MacArthur Foundation grant, a Royal Society of Literature Award, and the Queen's Medal for Poetry.


* Teju Cole, "Poet of the Caribbean | 'The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013'", The New York Times, February 21, 2014

Emily Temple, "The Writing Wisdom of Derek Walcott", Literary Hub, March 20, 2017

Derek Walcott Profiles Online: Academy of American Poets, The New YorkerNobel Prize, and Poetry Foundation

Jonathan Galassi, "Remembering Derek Walcott", Work in Progress (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux),  March 244, 2017

Peter Armenti, "Literary Treasures: Derek Walcott Reading His Poems (1986)", From the Catbird Seat, Poetry & Literature at the Library of Congress, March 23, 2017

Edward Hirsch, "Derek Walcott, The Art of Poetry No. 37" (Interview), The Paris Review, Issue 101, Winter 1986

A number of Walcott's lyrical poems can be found easily online.

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