Poet, playwright and painter, Derek Walcott, died peacefully at the age of 87 on Friday, March 17, at his house of Cap Estate in St. Lucia. In 1992, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he promoted Caribbean culture throughout the world.
Derek Walcott was born on January 23, 1930 in Castries on the island of St. Lucia, in the Caribbean.
Raised by his mother, he began writing at a young age, a gift passed down from his father who was an Anglo-Dutch writer and painter. Moreover, he said that he continued the work of this father he did not have time to get to know because he died when he was 1 year old. His mother was a West-Indian woman of humble origin but she wanted Derek and his twin brother Roderick (who will become a screenwriter and playwright) to become educated.
At 18, he published his first book of poems (Twenty-Five Poems) and continued his studies in Jamaica. In the 1950s, Derek Walcott moved to Trinidad and Tobago, he created a theater workshop where he staged some of his plays. In 1981, he left Port of Spain for the United States to teach at the universities of Harvard and Boston.
In 1990, he published “Omeros”, an epic poem which is divided into seven “books” with 64 chapters. This work brought him international recognition : The New York Times Book Review chose “Omeros” as one of its “Best Books of 1990” and, in 1991, it won the WH Smith Literary Award.
In 1992, Walcott was honoured with the Nobel Prize for Literature in Norway. Today he is one of the three winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature in our Caribbean region, with Guadeloupean poet Saint John Perse (Nobel Prize in Literature in 1960) and Trinidadian writer Vidiadhar Surajprasad (VS) Naipaul (Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001).
Derek Walcott travelled a lot to share his vision of Caribbean culture. For example, in 2008, he was the guest of honor of the first edition of the Congress of the Caribbean Writers that takes place every two years in Guadeloupe.
In order to honor its two Nobel prizes – Sir Derek Walcott (Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992) and Sir Arthur Lewis (Nobel Prize for Economics in 1979) – the island of Saint Lucia has created “The Nobel Laureates Week” that is held each year, in January.
Twenty-Five Poems (1948)
Epitaph for the Young: Xll Cantos (1949)
Henri Christophe (1950)
A Far Cry From Africa (1962)
In a Green Night : Poems 1948-60 (1962)
Selected Poems (1964)
The Castaway (1967)
Ti-Jean and his Brothers (1970)
What the Twilight says (1970)
Dream on Monkey Mountain (1971)
The Gulf and Others Poems (1973)
Another Life (1973)
Sea Grapes (1976)
The Star-Apple Kingdom (1979)
The Fortunate Traveller (1982)
The Arkansas Testament (1987)
The Bounty (1997)
Tiepolo’s Hound (2000)
White Egrets (2010)
1971 : Obie Award for Dream on Monkey Mountain
1990 : Smith Literary Award for Omeros
1992 : Nobel Prize in Literature
2010 : Eliot Prize for White Egrets
2011 : OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for White Egrets