DEREK WALCOTT, the
distinguished poet, playwright and essayist, and the winner of the 1992 Nobel
Prize in Literature, was born in 1930 in Castries, the capital of St. Lucia,
in the West Indies. He graduated from the University of the West Indies and,
in 1957, was awarded a fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation to study the
American theater. In 1959, he founded the Trinidad Theater Workshop, and his
plays have been produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Mark Taper
Forum in Los Angeles, and the Negro Ensemble Company.
He has published 11 books of poetry,
including Selected Poems (1964); Collected Poems 1948-1984
(1986); The Arkansas Testament (1987); Omeros (1990); The Bounty (1997); and
Tiepolo’s Hound (2000). Walcott’s Collected
Poems: 1948-1984 won the 1986 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for
Poetry. Walcott’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Kenyon Review,
The New York Review of Books, The Nation, London Magazine, Antaeus, and
Derek Walcott has won the Guinness
Award for Poetry, a Royal Society of Literature Award, the Cholmondeley Prize,
the New Statesman’s Jock Campbell Award, and the Welsh Arts Council
International Writers Prize. In 1981, Walcott was a recipient of a five-year
fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation. In 1988, he was awarded the Queen’s
Medal for Poetry. He is an Honorary Member of the American Academy and
Institute of Arts and Letters.
Several of Walcott’s books of poetry
are landmarks in West Indian literature, and he has written more than two
dozen plays. He co-authored a collection of essays with Joseph Brodsky and
Seamus Heaney entitled Homage to Robert Frost in 1996. His first
collection of essays, What the Twilight Says, was published in October
1999. In 2002, two collections of his plays were published: The Haitian
Trilogy and Walker and The Ghost Dance.
Walcott’s work is intensely related
to the symbolism of myth and its relationship to culture. He skillfully fuses
folk culture and oral tradition with the classical and avant-garde. His epic
poem Omeros echoes and re-imagines Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey as it
examines the Caribbean’s colonial past and complex present. In Tiepolo’s
Hound, he interweaves his own story with that of the St. Thomas-born
painter Camille Pissarro.
He divides his time between his
homes in St. Lucia and New York. During the academic year he teaches at Boston
University in Boston, Massachusetts.
Walcott has been painting oils and
watercolors for more than five decades. This exhibition at the June Kelly
Gallery is his first one-person show and his first in New York City.
His U. S. publisher is Farrar,
Straus and Giroux.