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Feb. 4, 2005

Derek Walcott

by Grace Harter, Page Editor
Derek Walcott, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for literature.
Derek Walcott, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for literature.
Derek Walcott is distinguished as one of the few blacks to have received the Nobel Peace Prize for literature. In 1992, the poet acquired the award for his enormous volume of work that was influenced by African, English and West Indian cultures. The Swedish Academy, which awards the prizes, directly cited Walcott's ability to fuse together the three cultures of his upbringing to make one smooth and culturally diverse piece.

Walcott's multiculturalism is due to the diverse background of his hometown Castries, a part of the West Indies. Growing up in a former British colony allowed Walcott to witness some of the struggles between European and West Indian culture. He also felt some identity issues of his own because of his West Indian and European heritage. Walcott was born on January 23, 1930 and was educated at St. Mary's College in St. Lucia and at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. By age 18, he had already written the book "25 Poems," and since then, he has published 17 volumes of poetry.

Walcott is not only known for his poems; he has also written a series of essays, plays and novels. After teaching in Granada and St. Lucia in 1950, Walcott began to have some of his plays produced and performed in the West Indies. In addition, he wrote theatre reviews for newspapers. In 1958, he moved to New York to study theatre and afterwards, acquired a teaching position at Boston University.

Walcott is still alive and travels between Boston and Trinidad when he is not teaching. He recently wrote the lyrics for the 1998 Broadway show "The Capeman" and had his play "The Odyssey: The Stage Version" performed in 1993.

Information has been compiled from the Nobel Prize website, the Academy of American Poets,and the Britannica website.



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