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Profile of Derek Walcott
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|Also Know As:
|Date of Birth:
||23rd January 1930
|Place of Birth:
||Castries, Saint Lucia
Derek Alton Walcott (born January 23, 1930) is a poet, playwright, writer and visual artist who was in the vanguard of the post-colonial school of English language writing.
He was born in Castries, St. Lucia.
His work, which developed independently of the schools of magic realism emerging in both South America and Europe at around the time of his birth, is intensely related to the symbolism of myth and its relationship to culture. He is best known for his epic poem Omeros, a reworking of Homeric story and tradition into a journey around the Caribbean and beyond to the American West and London.
Walcott founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in 1959, which has produced his plays (and others) since that time, and remains active with its Board of Directors.
In 1997, he collaborated with Paul Simon on the Broadway musical The Capeman.
He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 .
Walcott as Playwright and Theorist
Derek Walcott's more than 20 published plays speak to the popularity of his dramatic works. The majority of these plays have been produced by the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, and have also been widely staged elsewhere. Many of them deal, either directly or indirectly, with the liminal status of the West Indies in the postcolonial period. Epistemological, ontological, economical, political, and social themes make regular appearances in Walcott's plays.
In his 1970 essay on art (and specifically theatre) in his native region, What the Twilight Says: An Overture (published in Dream on Monkey Mountain and Other Plays; see bibliography), Walcott bemoans the lasting effects of over 400 years of colonial rule. He reflects on the West Indies as colonized space, and the problems presented by a region with little in the way of truly indigenous forms, and with little national or nationalist identity. He states: “...we are all strangers here (10). [...] Our bodies think in one language and move in another...”(31).
Discussions of epistemological effects of colonization present themselves in plays such as Ti-Jean and his Brothers. One of the eponymous brothers (Mi-Jean) is shown to have much information, but to truly know nothing. Every line Mi-Jean recites is rote knowledge gained from the colonizer, and as such is unable to be synthesized and thus is inapplicable to his existence as colonized person.
The plays weave together a variety of forms; including those of the folktale, morality play, allegory, fable, ritual and myth; as well as using emblematic and mythological characters to address issues in non-realistic ways.
- (1948) 25 Poems
- (1949) Epitaph for the Young: Xll Cantos
- (1951) Poems
- (1962) In a Green Night: Poems 1948–60
- (1964) Selected Poems
- (1965) The Castaway and Other Poems
- (1969) The Gulf and Other Poems
- (1973) Another Life
- (1976) Sea Grapes
- (1979) The Star-Apple Kingdom
- (1981) Selected Poetry
- (1981) The Fortunate Traveller
- (1983) The Caribbean Poetry of Derek Walcott and the Art of Romare Bearden
- (1984) Midsummer
- (1986) Collected Poems, 1948-1984
- (1987) The Arkansas Testament
- (1990) Omeros
- (1997) The Bounty
- (2000) Tiepolo's Hound
- (2004) The Prodigal
Partial Listing of Plays in Publication
- (1950) Henri Christophe: A Chronicle in Seven Scenes
- (1951) Harry Dernier: A Play for Radio Production
- (1953) Wine of the Country
- (1954) The Sea at Dauphin: A Play in One Act
- (1957) Ione
- (1958) Drums and Colours: An Epic Drama
- (1958) Ti-Jean and His Brothers
- (1966) Malcochon: or, Six in the Rain
- (1967) Dream on Monkey Mountain
- (1970) In a Fine Castle
- (1974) The Joker of Seville
- (1974) The Charlatan
- (1976) O Babylon!
- (1977) Remembrance
- (1978) Pantomime
- (1980) The Joker of Seville and O Babylon!: Two Plays
- (1982) The Isle Is Full of Noises
- (1986) Three Plays (The Last Carnival, Beef, No Chicken, and A Branch of the Blue Nile)
- (1991) Steel
- (1993) Odyssey: A Stage Version
- (1997) The Capeman (lyrics)
- Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott
- Postcolonialweb.org on Walcott
- Trinidad Theatre Workshop
- Breslin, Paul. Nobody's Nation: Reading Derek Walcott. Chicago: U. Chicago, 2001. ISBN: 0-226-07426-9
- Hemmer, Robert D., Ed. Critical Perspectives on Derek Walcott. Washington, D.C.: Three Continents, 1993. ISBN 0-89410-142-0
- Parker, Michael and Roger Starkey, Eds. New Casebooks: Postcolonial Literatures: Achebe, Ngugi, Desai, Walcott. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan, 1995. ISBN 0-333-60801-1
- Walcott, Derek. Dream on Monkey Mountain and Other Plays. New York: Farrar, 1970. ISBN 0-374-50860-7
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