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Derek Walcott

17 November 1983
... I heard them marching the leaf-wet roads of my head, the sucked vowels of a syntax trampled to mud, a division of dictions, one troop black, barefooted, the other in redcoats bright as their sovereign’s blood. One fought for a queen, the other was chained in her service, but both, in bitterness, travelled the same road. Our occupation and the Army of Occupation are born enemies, but what mortar can ...

The View

Mark Strand

16 October 1997
... For DerekWalcott This is the place. The chairs are white. The table shines. The person sitting there stares at the waxen glow. The wind moves the air around, repeatedly, As if to clear a space. ‘A space for me ...


Ian Sansom

11 December 1997
The Bounty 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 78 pp., £14.99, July 1997, 0 571 19130 4
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... Because he is well capable of rhetoric and flourish, he too often allows these two-edged gifts to deflect him from a real, vivid self into a bombastic stance’ (Eavan Boland); ‘I have found Walcott’s extravagance of poetic diction and tendency to verbosity off-putting in the past’ (Peter Porter); ‘I feel that the fuss and the language are not quite justified by the donné’ (Roy Fuller ...
19 February 1981
The Star-Apple Kingdom 
by Derek Walcott.
Cape, 58 pp., £2.50, March 1980, 0 224 01780 2
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Selected Poems 1961-1978 
by David Holbrook.
Anvil, 143 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 85646 066 4
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Death Valley and Other Poems in America 
by Alan Ross.
London Magazine Editions, 92 pp., £3, June 1980, 0 904388 32 8
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Poems 1955-1980 
by Roy Fisher.
Oxford, 193 pp., £7.95, November 1980, 0 19 211935 4
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A.R.T.H.U.R. & M.A.R.T.H.A. 
by Laurence Lerner.
Secker, 69 pp., £2.95, November 1980, 0 436 24440 3
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... DerekWalcott is now 50 years old, but there is none of the placidity or mellowing of middle age in The Star-Apple Kingdom. If Naipaul is the great novelist of the colonial experience, Walcott has a claim to be considered the great poet of the same experience. They share an acute sense of belonging to more than one culture and hence to none. The reference in the title poem to the Caribbean ...


John Kerrigan

13 October 1988
Archaic Figure 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 113 pp., £4.95, February 1988, 0 571 15043 8
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by Grevel Lindop.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, July 1987, 0 85635 697 2
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Sleeping rough 
by Charles Boyle.
Carcanet, 64 pp., £5.95, November 1987, 0 85635 731 6
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This Other Life 
by Peter Robinson.
Carcanet, 96 pp., £5.95, April 1988, 0 85635 737 5
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In the Hot-House 
by Alan Jenkins.
Chatto, 60 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3312 0
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Monterey Cypress 
by Lachlan Mackinnon.
Chatto, 62 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3264 7
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My Darling Camel 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 64 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 7011 3286 8
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The Air Mines of Mistila 
by Philip Gross and Sylvia Kantaris.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £4.95, June 1988, 1 85224 055 5
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by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 131 pp., £6.95, April 1988, 0 19 281987 9
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The Arkansas Testament 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 117 pp., £3.95, March 1988, 9780571149094
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... themselves. A strong but representative book like David Dabyeen’s Coolie Odyssey* will go back to The Tempest, Blake and, most evidently, Homer in an effort to come to terms with colonialism. And DerekWalcott has for some years now read ‘Iliads and Odysseys’ (Chatwin’s phrase), Clampitt’s ‘middle of the earth ... stepmotherland’, into his chorography of islands: That sail which leans ...

Beach Poets

Blake Morrison

16 September 1982
The Fortunate Traveller 
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 99 pp., £3.95, March 1982, 0 571 11893 3
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Sun Poem 
by Edward Kamau Brathwaite.
Oxford, 104 pp., £4.95, April 1982, 0 19 211945 1
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Collected Poems 
by Bernard Spencer, edited by Roger Bowen.
Oxford, 149 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 19 211930 3
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Selected Poems 
by Odysseus Elytis.
Anvil, 114 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85646 076 1
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Poems from Oby 
by George MacBeth.
Secker, 67 pp., £4, March 1982, 9780436270178
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The New Ewart: Poems 1980-1982 
by Gavin Ewart.
Hutchinson, 115 pp., £4.95, March 1982, 0 09 146980 5
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The Apple-Broadcast 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 133 pp., £3, November 1981, 0 7100 0884 8
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... to this view, the poetry associated with Mediterranean and Caribbean countries must always be off the literary map: one can expect very little from books with titles like The Fortunate Traveller (DerekWalcott), Sun Poem (Edward Kamau Brathwaite), Aegean Islands (Bernard Spencer) and Sun the First (Odysseus Elytis). Walcott confronts this prejudice in his new volume. Dividing his poems into those ...

Boeotian Masters

Donald Davie

5 November 1992
The Paperbark Tree: Selected Prose 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 360 pp., £18.95, September 1992, 0 85635 976 9
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... South Wales against Sydney. There is only one reason for worrying about this. Murray has been called ‘one of the finest poets writing in English, one of a superleague that includes Seamus Heaney, DerekWalcott and Joseph Brodsky’. This is astonishingly vulgar, and I suppress the author’s name to spare his blushes. But if we reject the notion that poets can be ranked internationally like ...

Where Does He Come From?

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Placing V.S. Naipaul

1 November 2007
A Writer’s People: Ways of Looking and Feeling 
by V.S. Naipaul.
Picador, 193 pp., £16.99, September 2007, 978 0 330 48524 1
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... revisit earlier moments in Naipaul’s work. The first essay refers back to the Caribbean of Naipaul’s childhood in the late 1940s and is largely concerned to deflate the reputation of the poet DerekWalcott through a clever exercise in condescension and faint praise. Walcott and Naipaul, both Nobel Prize winners, have long been rivals, in both a literary and a political sense, and clearly ...

Paradise Lost

Nicholas Everett

11 July 1991
by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 325 pp., £17.50, September 1990, 0 571 16070 0
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Collected Poems 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 456 pp., £18, September 1990, 0 7011 3713 4
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The Mail from Anywhere 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, September 1990, 0 19 282779 0
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An Elegy for the Galosherman: New and Selected Poems 
by Matt Simpson.
Bloodaxe, 128 pp., £6.95, October 1990, 1 85224 103 9
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... prompt expiry and may even keep it enduringly fresh. Furthermore, if a poem can be paraphrased, it will fail to reflect the radically ‘meaningless’, indeterminate nature of our experience. DerekWalcott’s poems, informed and invigorated as many them are by a coherent ideology, don’t conform to this negative aesthetic. Their ideology, however, is a cultural version of it. Until recently, as the ...

Tropical Storms

Blake Morrison

6 September 1984
Poems of Science 
edited by John Heath-Stubbs and Phillips Salman.
Penguin, 328 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 0 14 042317 6
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The Kingfisher 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, April 1984, 0 571 13269 3
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The Ice Factory 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13217 0
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Venus and the Rain 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 57 pp., £4.50, June 1984, 0 19 211962 1
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Saying hello at the station 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 48 pp., £2.95, June 1984, 0 7011 2788 0
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Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 159 pp., £2.95, May 1984, 0 904919 80 3
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News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry 
edited by James Berry.
Chatto, 212 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 9780701127978
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Human Rites: Selected Poems 1970-1982 
by E.A. Markham.
Anvil, 127 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85646 112 1
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by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... literary ancestry at all, the younger contributors to James Berry’s anthology look to the tradition of the native Barbadian Edward Kamau Brathwaite, not to that of the Trinidadian internationalist DerekWalcott, whose learned allusions – ‘as Ugolino did’, ‘that phrase of Traherne’s’, ‘those sheeted blighters, the Stoics’ – must denote for them a poetry of political compromise and ...


Marina Warner: Why I Quit

10 September 2014
... on national issues of science and scholarship,’ Sloman said, ‘as a scientist in a government research centre cannot. So universities must go on being places of scholarly investigation.’ When DerekWalcott accepted an invitation to become professor of poetry in 2009, he had a trace memory of this experimental, cosmopolitan place, so surprisingly based in Essex. The political disturbances there ...
10 September 1992
Kingsley Amis: Modern Novelist 
by Dale Salwak.
Harvester, 302 pp., £24.99, April 1992, 0 7450 1096 2
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London Calling: V.S. Naipaul, Postcolonial Mandarin 
by Rob Nixon.
Oxford, 229 pp., £27.50, May 1992, 0 19 506717 7
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... polemic is sustained and on the whole temperate. He is not the first critic to assail Naipaul in this way, for there has been a good show of opposition already, especially from blacks and Indians. DerekWalcott has been harsh, and Selwyn Cudjoe, a professor of Black Studies, produced in 1988 a long book called V.S. Nai-paul: A Materialist Reading, which describes Naipaul as ‘an apologist for the ...
8 December 1988
To Urania: Selected Poems 1965-1985 
by Joseph Brodsky.
Penguin, 174 pp., £4.99, September 1988, 9780140585803
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... more than half have been turned into English verse, with rhymes and the rest of it, by the author alone. The crew of distinguished pen-men who helped him in the past – Richard Wilbur, Howard Moss, DerekWalcott and others – has for the most part been laid off. It is understandable why, after all these years, Brodsky should wish to tackle the job single-handed: poets are seldom natural ...
8 April 1993
Dream of Fair to Middling Women 
by Samuel Beckett, edited by Eoin O’Brien and Edith Fournier.
Black Cat, 241 pp., £18.99, November 1992, 0 7145 4212 1
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... upon us (which I, for example, born in 1955, was brought up to believe) and as a language we possess ‘more deeply and sonorously than most of the English themselves’, as Seamus Heaney said of DerekWalcott. One language has gone, and that means that the one we use now could fade too, slip and fail, as Mrs Rooney in Beckett’s All That Fall points out to Mr Rooney when he says ‘sometimes one ...


Tim Dee: Derek Walcott’s Birthday Party

21 May 2014
... There​ was a primed plastic water pistol, yellow or green, on every table at DerekWalcott’s 84th birthday lunch at the Ladera hotel on the west coast of St Lucia. The Walcott entourage had taken over the restaurant and after we’d dined on saltfish with green bananas, the staff gathered and the guests stood up to sing ‘Happy Birthday’. Then came the carving of a ...

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