Monday, 23 January 2017

Derek Walcott was born - this day - in 1930 - A Controversial Genius

Derek Walcott
Today in 1930,  the poet Derek Walcott, was born in St. Lucia. He won the Nobel Prize in 1992. From 2010 to 2013 he was Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex.

One of his major poems can be found here: The Schooner Flight. In the poem, Walcott represents and works through his own life and issues by assuming the fictional identity of an unhappy man fleeing from the corruption of society. This is a challenging and powerful poem, and not always easy to read. Unsurprisingly, the feminists had a dig at him for his non-pc language. .

You can go to this link to find a summary of the poem.

Derek Walcott suffered a major scandal in 2003 which caused him to withdraw from an important professorship poetry post. This campaign was supported by some but described as a "smear campaign" by others:

" . Miss Niemi, who is now a novelist writing as N K Kelby and living in Florida, told The Sunday Telegraph that she had not forgotten what happened but had forgiven Walcott. She said the campaign against him was “appalling” and he should have fought on – or the university should have postponed the election. “I did what I felt was best to protect young women,” she said. “But poetry is a passionate art.” She said it was Walcott’s way “to be sexual, to push the envelope of both decorum and good taste”.
(Ruth Patel Win Spoiled by Smear Campaign.)

Previous holders of the professorship at Oxford University include Matthew Arnold, W H Auden, Robert Graves and Seamus Heaney..

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