Derek Walcott

About Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott was born a twin on January 23, 1930 in Saint Lucia. While his father died when he was very young, his mother, a teacher, instilled a love of literacy in him, his brother, and sister. She recited poems to him at home, and she loved the arts. His father had also been a lover of the arts, having been a painter and poet.

Much of Walcott's inspiration comes from the history of St. Lucia, both colonialism and post-colonialism. He also infiltrates the theme of spirituality in his poems. His first poem was published in a St. Lucian newspaper, The Voice of St. Lucia, when he was fourteen. A few years later, Walcott borrowed money from his mother to self-publish his first collection of poems. By age nineteen, Walcott self-published two books of poems.

After studying the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Walcott moved to Trinidad in 1953 where he became a critic, teacher, and journalist. He then taught literature and writing at Boston University. While there, he founded Boston's Playwrights' Theatre in 1981. In 2010 he took a job at the University of Essex as a professor of poetry.

In 1992 Walcott became the first Caribbean writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Walcott has become known as a poet and playwright, one with an extensive list of published works. He has also received various literary awards such as:

  • Obie Award 1971
  • MacArthur Foundation "genius" award
  • Royal Society of Literature Award
  • Queen's Medal for Poetry
  • 2011 T.S. Eliot Prize

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