Sir Derek Walcott has died. The St. Lucia-born poet and playwright, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, passed away Friday, March 17, at his home in St. Lucia. Walcott, who had been ailing for some time, was 87 years old.
Walcott won many literary awards over the course of his career, including an Obie Award in 1971 for his play “Dream on Monkey Mountain,” a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, a Royal Society of Literature Award, the Queen’s Medal for Poetry, the inaugural OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the 2011 T. S. Eliot Prize for his book of poetry “White Egrets” and the Griffin Trust for Excellence In Poetry’s Lifetime Recognition Award in 2015.
Walcott was born in 1930 in the town of Castries in St Lucia. The experience of growing up on the isolated volcanic island, an ex-British colony had a strong influence on Walcott’s life and work. Both his grandmothers were said to have been the descendants of slaves.
His father, a Bohemian watercolorist, died when Derek and his twin brother, Roderick, were only a few years old. His mother ran the town’s Methodist school. After studying at St. Mary’s College in his native island and at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Walcott moved in 1953 to Trinidad, where h worked as a theater and art critic. At the age of 18, he made his debut with “25 Poems,” but his breakthrough came with the collection of poems “In a Green Night” (1962). In 1959, he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, which produced many of his early plays.
For many years, h divided his time between Trinidad, where he had his home as a writer, and Boston University, where he taught literature and creative writing.
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