2011 Rydell Professorship

Featuring Derek Walcott, Nobel Laureate 

David SedlakDerek Walcott

A poet, playwright, writer, and visual artist, Walcott was born on the island of St. Lucia in 1930. In 1959, he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop and in 1981 he founded Boston Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University. Walcott retired from teaching poetry and drama in the Creative Writing Department at Boston University in 2007 and is currently in the middle of a three-year distinguished scholar-in-residence position at the University of Alberta.

Walcott has written more than 20 plays, but is best known for his epic poem, Omeros. The work is, in part, a Caribbean retelling of stories from Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad, interwoven with the history of colonialism on Walcott’s native island of St. Lucia along with the poet-narrator’s own transatlantic wanderings and musings. The multi-layered mosaic of the poem is mainly written in terza rima and has been widely praised for its imaginative scope and inventive use of language.

While Omeros remains Walcott’s most widely known work, he has published more than 20 volumes of poetry. In addition to his Nobel Prize, Walcott has won many awards for his poetry, including a Royal Society of Literature Award, the Queen’s Medal for Poetry, and a fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation.

Derek Walcott, the 1992 Nobel Prize winner in Literature, served as the 2011 Rydell Professor.