Nobel Prize winning poet and playwright Derek Walcott died early Friday morning in his home in the Eastern Caribbean nation of St. Lucia. His son Peter had confirmed his death.
Walcott, known for becoming on of the Caribbean’s most prolific writers as he wrote about the “very rich and complicated experience” of life in the Caribbean, had won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992 after long being shortlisted for the prize. One of his most praised works at the time was “Omeros”, a 64 chapter epic on the Caribbean that has been described as “majestic” as the academy hailed his “great luminosty” and that “In him, West Indian culture has found its great poet.” His reputation is such that he is praised as being one of the greatest writers of the second half of the 20th century, according to NBC.
Born in 1930 in St. Lucia’s capital of Castries, his passions included watercolor painting, teaching, and theater, and was lauded for his use of metaphor among other literary devices. In a 1985 interview with the Paris Review, Walcott claimed:
I am primarily, absolutely a Caribbean writer…The English language is nobody’s special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself. I have never felt inhibited in trying to write as well as the greatest English poets.
He studied literature at Jamaica’s University College of the West Indies, and studied in New York as well. He founded a theater in Trinidad’s Port of Spain, and the Boston Playwright’s Theater, as he wrote many plays as well as poetry. However, his reputation was weakened in the wake of sexual harassment allegations made against him in the 80s and 90s at Harvard and Boston universities.
After he retired from Boston University in 2007, he spent more time in his home in St. Lucia. His family have not issued a statement at this time.