June Kelly Gallery

Derek Walcott

The Swimmer, 1993
, 14 x 18¾ inches

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 other periodicals.

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.


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