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Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize-winning poet – obituary

Derek Walcott
Derek Walcott Credit: Effigie/Leemage/Writer Pictures

Derek Walcott, who has died aged 87, was a Caribbean poet whose work embraced the British and classical traditions that other post-colonial writers spurned.

His poetry has a global importance – he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. Shortly after that, Columbus Square in his home town of Castries, St Lucia, was renamed Walcott Square, and his name is also commemorated by the Walcott acra, a salt fishcake served with a Creole sauce. It is fitting for a poet whose work would always be rooted in the St Lucia of his birth.

Walcott would use the characters of his childhood, and recast them as heroes on a Homeric scale. His long narrative poem Another Life (1973) made a bold start in this kind of writing, and he would bring it to fruition in his mature masterpiece Omeros (1990).

Derek Walcott's collected poems

He would write about islands, beaches, boats, castaways and ports. These became metaphors, sometimes for the solitary...

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