Derek Walcott OBE OCC is a Saint Lucian poet, playwright, writer and visual artist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 and the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2011 for White Egrets. His works include the Homeric epic Omeros. Robert Graves wrote that Walcott "handles English with a closer understanding of its inner magic than most, if not any, of his contemporaries”.
Walcott was born and raised in Castries, Saint Lucia, in the West Indies with a twin brother, the future playwright Roderick Walcott, and a sister. His mother, a teacher, had a love of the arts who would often recite poetry. His father, who painted and wrote poetry, died at 31 from mastoiditis. The family came from a minority Methodist community, which felt overshadowed by the dominant Catholic culture of the island. As a young man he trained as a painter, mentored by Harold Simmons whose life as a professional artist provided an inspiring example for Walcott. Walcott greatly admired Cézanne and Giorgione and sought to learn from them.
Walcott then studied as a writer, becoming “an elated, exuberant poet madly in love with English” and strongly influenced by modernist poets such as T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Walcott had an early sense of a vocation as a writer. In the Poem "Midsummer" (1984), he wrote
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