Derek Walcott: A Polyphony of Voices

Erdinch Yigitce

A Nobel Prize winner, the poet Derek Walcott is one of the most celebrated voices of the West Indies. Adopting a range of styles, and influenced by the rich oral tradition of the Caribbean, Walcott explores issues of racial identity, West Indian culture and the complex history of colonialism in his work.

Born of mixed racial heritage in the former British colony of St Lucia in 1930, Derek Alton Walcott published his first poem in a local newspaper at the age of 14, and went on to study at St. Mary’s College, and The University College of the West Indies in Jamaica, where he studied languages. His first collection, titled 25 Poems was released in 1948 when he was 18 years old, and was self distributed on street corners. Briefly working as a teacher, he soon started a career in journalism writing for various publications before taking a post as a Professor of poetry at Boston University in 1950. He gained an international recognition with his 1962 collection In a Green Night: Poems 1948-60, which explored issues of post-colonial Caribbean life and the politics of identity.

Speaking English and French Creole, his work is a cross-cultural stew, often combining Caribbean poetics, patois and the African storytelling tradition with European forms such as the classical mode of the Epic, and the style of the modernist English poets Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. Using fables, folktales and allegory, his poetry is one of symbolism, symbiosis and playful assimilation, mixing local Creole language with English dialect. This bilingual interplay of pan-national idioms and cultural identities has led to Walcott describing himself as ‘a mulatto of style’.

Walcott’s key concern is exploring the historical impact of colonization, the dichotomy between European and West Indian culture, and constructing a post-independence identity. One of his most widely acclaimed works is the epic poem Omeros (1990), a technically ambitious retelling of Homer’s Odyssey. A critique of postcolonial politics, Omeros is set on the isolated isle of St Lucia, and concerns the travails of local fisherman Achilles, who travels to Africa during a dream. Walcott would go on to win the Nobel Prize of Literature in 1992. He is also an acclaimed dramatist. His most famous play is Dream on Monkey Mountain (1970), and he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in 1950 to promote the work of West Indian playwrights. Walcott’s later works of poetry include The Bounty (1997), Tiepolo’s Hound (2000) and White Egrets (2010).

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article