Derek Alton Walcott

Derek Alton Walcott
Derek Alton Walcott

A professor, poet, and playwright of English, Dutch, and African descent, Derek Alton Walcott was a 1981 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant recipient who received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992.

Born on January 23, 1930 to Warwick, a civil servant, and Alix Maarlin Walcott, an elementary school teacher, Derek Alton Walcott, his twin brother Roderick, and sister Pamela were raised in Castries, Saint Lucia, in the West Indies by their mother after their father died when the twins were one year old.

Walcott’s first published poem was printed in the newspaper The Voice of St Lucia at age 14. Inspired by his father, a talented painter and encouraged by his mother, a lover of the arts, Walcott studied painting and writing. By 19, he had self-published his first two collections: 25 Poems (1948) and Epitaph for the Young: XII Cantos (1949).

After graduation from University College of the West Indies, Walcott moved to Trinidad, where he became a critic, teacher, and journalist. In 1959, he and his twin brother founded the repertory company Little Carib Theater Workshop, which later became the Trinidad Theater Workshop.

Heavily influenced by the modernist poets T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, Walcott became internationally prominent with the collection In a Green Night: Poems 1948-1960 (1962). But it was his epic poem Omeros (1990), re-imagining the Trojan War as a Caribbean fishermen’s fight, which cemented him in the literary firmament”.

Biography Source

Texts by Walcott
  • Selected Poems(1964)

    Citation: Walcott, Derek, and Edward Baugh. Selected Poems. Faber and Faber, 2009.
    Info: ‘Drawing from every stage of the Nobel laureate’s career, Derek Walcott’s Selected Poems brings together famous pieces from his early volumes, including “A Far Cry from Africa” and “A City’s Death by Fire,” with passages from the celebrated Omeros and selections from his latest major works, which extend his contributions to reenergizing the contemporary long poem.”

  • The Gulf, and Other Poems(1969)

    Citation: Walcott, Derek. The Gulf, and Other Poems. Cape, 1974.
    Info: “As his title suggests, Derek Walcott’s new poems–while making beautiful use of Caribbean imagery–are concerned with themes of isolation and the achievement of identity through loneliness.”

  • The Caribbean: Culture or Mimicry(1974)

    Citation:  Walcott, Derek.  1974.  “The Caribbean: Culture or Mimicry,”  Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, 16(1): 3-13.