From the West Indies: Short extract on “Poetry” by Derek Walcott (from the Nobel Lecture, 1992)



“Poetry, which is perfection’s sweat but which must seem as fresh as the raindrops on a statue’s brow, combines the natural and the marmoreal; it conjugates both tenses simultaneously: the past and the present, if the past is the sculpture and the present the beads of dew or rain on the forehead of the past. There is the buried language and there is the individual vocabulary, and the process of poetry is one of excavation and of self-discovery.” (from the Nobel Lecture, 1992)

Derek Walcott was born at Castries, St Lucia, a Caribbean island in the West Indies. He received a scholarship to the University College of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica.

The most important West Indian poet and dramatist writing in English today. Walcott has lived most of his life in Trinidad. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992.

His first play, HENRI CHRISTOPHER, was performed in 1950. In 1953 Walcott moved to Trinidad and in 1958-59 Walcott studied theater in New York. He has worked as a professor of poetry at the University of Boston, and divided his time between Trinidad and the USA. Walcott has written both in standard English and in West Indian dialect. His plays examining the postcolonial condition owe much to folk and Creole tradition and history.




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