15 May 2014
Evening Reading: Derek Walcott
Derek Walcott is a mixed-race poet from the Caribbean and is a writer, playwright and primarily a poet. A few months ago he participated in one of the evening readings at Queens College and read snippets from his poems called “White Egrets” and “Midsummer”. He also talked about his experiences being a poet and the method he uses to write a poem, essay, poem, etc. His mother was a teacher and encouraged him to chase his dreams of being a writer and inspired in him a love for poetry. His father also was supportive of him as well. Many of his poems draw from his experience of living in the Caribbean, have religious themes as well as talk about his life. In fact, he even said the meter of his poems is inspired by Caribbean music, which I thought was rather interesting.
“White Egrets” is a sad poem and is about how the poet’s lover has grown old. Now, the lover and the poet sit across from each other in wheelchairs and cannot engage in acts of love. They can never be together because they are separated by the chasm that is old age. The “Midsummer” poem is about feeding fire to his poem and how his father was kind of his muse because he was also an artist of sorts. His father painted and wrote. The poems sounded very meaningful coming from the poet’s wise, older voice and he said them with great emotion. Walcott said he felt that the more you read the poem, the more you could glean from it.
Walcott has many accomplishments. He has written over twenty plays as well as published books and poems. Poetry, however, was his first love and seems to be the kind of writing Walcott is most passionate about it. He compares writing poetry to unleashing an overflowing of emotions and just spilling it onto the paper. He also compares himself to a carpenter because constructing poetry’s structure, meter, etc is important. Walcott truly is a wordsmith.