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Sir Derek Walcott KCSL, OBE, OCC obituary (23 January 1930 – 17 March 2017)

Sir Derek Walcott, alumnus of the University of London International Programmes and Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, died on Friday 17 March 2017. 

Sir Derek Walcott, alumnus of the University of London International Programmes and Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, died on Friday 17 March 2017. He was the foremost West Indian poet and dramatist writing in his day.

Sir Derek Walcott was born in St Lucia, and attended University College of the West Indies (UCWI), which was affiliated to the University of London through the University’s Special Relations. He graduated in 1953, after studying English, French and Latin. Although he was born in St Luica, he lived most of his life in Trinidad.

Sir Derek has an extensive bibliography, including the epic-length poem Omeros (1990) – a retelling of the Homeric legend in a Caribbean context – and a collection of literary criticism, What the Twilight Says (1998). A Selected Poems was published in 2007.

Winner of numerous awards, including several for lifetime achievement awards, the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, Sir Derek’s work focused on the conflict between the heritages of European and West Indian culture, the long journey from slavery to independence, and his own role as a nomad between cultures. His poems are characterised by allusions to the English poetic tradition, and a symbolic imagination that is both personal and Caribbean.