April 12, 2007

Nobel laureate Derek Walcott

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LEWISBURG, Pa. – Award-winning poet and Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott has been named the 2007 Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters at Bucknell University.

Walcott will receive the award and give a talk Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell. The talk is free and open to the public.

Bucknell established the annual award in 2002 to honor and recognize an individual who represents the highest level of achievement in the craft of writing within the realms of fiction, non-fiction, or biography. Previous recipients have been Toni Morrison, John Updike, Salman Rushdie, Tom Wolfe, and Joyce Carol Oates.

"We are delighted to be able to honor Mr. Walcott on what will be a special day at Bucknell," said Dr. Brian C. Mitchell, Bucknell University President.

"His visit to Bucknell will coincide with the 50th anniversary of The Bucknell Review, and the 20th anniversary of the Stadler Center for Poetry. As a poet and playwright, he does honor to the great tradition of Bucknell's writing community, and we are proud to honor him in the name of Mrs. Weis."

Playwright and poet

Walcott was born in 1930 in the West Indies of African and European ancestry and has maintained a permanent residence in Trinidad for more than 20 years. After graduating from the University of the West Indies, he was awarded a fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation to study the American theater and later founded the Trinidad Theater Workshop.

He has published five books of plays, including Dream on Monkey Mountain and Other Plays, which won the Obie Award for distinguished foreign play, The Joker of Seville and 0 Babylon!: Two Plays; Beef, No Chicken; A Branch of the Blue Nile; and The Odyssey. His plays have been produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and the Negro Ensemble Company. In 1969, he received a Eugene O'Neill Foundation-Wesleyan University Fellowship for playwrights.

Walcott has published 10 books of poetry, including The Gulf, Another Life, The Star Apple Kingdom, The Fortunate Traveller, Collected Poems 1948-1984 (which won the 1986 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry), The Arkansas Testament, Omeros, and The Bounty.

He has won the Guinness Award for Poetry, a Royal Society of Literature Award, the Cholmondeley Prize, the New Statesman's Jock Campbell Award, and the Welsh Arts Council International Writers Prize.

His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Kenyon Review, The New York Review of Books, The Nation, London Magazine, Antaeus, and other periodicals.

Nobel Prize winner

When Walcott received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992, he was recognized for creating "a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment."

The recipient of a five-year fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation, he is an Honorary Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Walcott was awarded the Queen's Medal for Poetry in 1988.

The Weis Fellowship was established through a grant from the Degenstein Foundation in honor of Janet Weis, author, civic leader, and philanthropist. Mrs. Weis is trustee emerita of the university. Mrs. Weis's late husband, Sigfried Weis, was chair of the Bucknell Board of Trustees from 1982-88.

Posted April 12, 2007