Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott has died at his home in the eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia at the age of 87.
A prolific and versatile poet, Walcott was widely respected as one of the greatest writers of the second half of the 20th century.
“Derek Alton Walcott, poet, playwright, and painter died peacefully today, Friday 17th March, 2017, at his home in Cap Estate, Saint Lucia,” read a statement his family released later in the morning. It said the funeral would be held in St. Lucia and details would be announced shortly.
Jeff Seroy, a spokesman for publisher Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, said the cause of death was not immediately known, but added that Walcott had been ill for some time and had recently returned home from a hospital stay.
His longtime companion, Sigrid Nama, was with him at the time of his death, Seroy said
With passions ranging from watercolor painting to teaching to theatre, Walcott’s work was widely praised for its depth and bold use of metaphor, as well as its mix of sensuousness and technical prowess.
Walcott received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1992 after being shortlisted for the honour for many years. In selecting him, the Swedish academy cited “the great luminosity” of his writings, including the 1990 “Omeros”, a 64-chapter Caribbean epic it praised as “majestic.”
“In him, West Indian culture has found its great poet,” said the academy in awarding the $1.2m prize to Walcott. Love after Love, by Derek Walcott The time will come
when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other\’s welcome, and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life. A distinctly Carribean poet Walcott proudly celebrated his role as a Caribbean writer. “I am primarily, absolutely a Caribbean writer,” he once said during a 1985 interview published in The Paris Review.
“The English language is nobody’s special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself. I have never felt inhibited in trying to write as well as the greatest English poets.”
Walcott said his writing reflected the “very rich and complicated experience” of life in the Caribbean. He compared his feeling for poetry to a religious avocation.
Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott Dies At 87