Saint Lucian poet, Derek Walcott (1930-2017)  Nobel Prize in Literature 1992; picture taken at his honorary dinner, Amsterdam, May 20th 2008

“… the truest writers are those who see language not as a linguistic process but as a living element…” Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott died this morning at the age of 87 after gifting the world with some of its finest poetry.

There is much in Derek Walcott’s life and work that is worth noting but for those who self-publish or are considering doing so, Walcott was a part of that long tradition. In his late teens he self-published his first works – 25 Poems (1948) and Epitaph for the Young: XII Cantos (1949) – with money borrowed from his mother, a school teacher and principal. He sold copies to friends and recouped the costs. I’m sure that if he was a teen today he’d be blogging his poems.

Bill Moyers once interviewed Walcott …

” . . .about the United States’ discomfort with its role as an empire and the difference between the American dream and the “black man’s dream.” The Caribbean-born writer also speaks of poets’ obsession with language and truth telling, and the “divine discontent” at the heart of all art.”

The reason I remembered this long-ago interview is that as a first-generation American I appreciated what he had to say about the motivations behind immigration to the States, about the ideals we have that are valued even though we fall far short of living up to them. I searched for and found the transcript online this afternoon and mention it here because I think some of what Walcott said is relevant to current struggles. Link HERE to read the transcript.

Photo courtesy of Bert Nienhuis under CC BY-SA 2.0 license.



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