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Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott to Read at Concordia

Posted on: Sep 7, 2012

(Post contributed by Dr. Querengesser)


. . . somehow, at this height,


above this cauldron boiling with its wars,

our old earth, breaking to familiar light,

that cloud-bound mummy with self-healing scars


peeled of her cerements again looks new . . .


These lines from Derek Walcott’s poem “The Gulf” resonate with me today as much as they did when I first discovered and taught this poem over twenty years ago. Derek WalcottReading Walcott’s poetry, I am impressed by the way in which it constantly renews our impressions of “that cloud-bound mummy,” “our old earth”—and its motley collection of inhabitants.

Mr. Walcott, who was born in St. Lucia in 1930, has been writing poetry and drama since the 1940s. He is now one of the world’s most recognized and accomplished poets, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992. His poetic publications include In a Green Night: Poems 1948–1960, The Castaway, The Gulf, Sea Grapes, Midsummer, and the modern epic Omeros, about which my students and I have enjoyed many stimulating discussions. His dramas include Dream on Monkey Mountain and Pantomime. His work can be by turns intensely and beautifully lyrical, powerfully dramatic, and narratively engaging. Much of it deals with themes of colonial and racial relationships as well as Walcott’s own identity in the midst of these.

Mr. Walcott will be reading poems from his 1973 collection Another Life at Concordia’s Tegler Centre on 22 September at 7:00 p.m. His reading is part of a series of events at Concordia and elsewhere ths fall hosted by the Public Foundation for Art and Life, entitled "Synchronous: A Festival of Art and Life."