Derek Walcott

Biography ||  Bibliography || 1992 Nobel Lecture || Reading of Sea Grapes || What the critics say

LEWISBURG, Pa. – Award-winning poet and Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, one of just 19 living recipients of the Nobel Prize for Literature and the first to visit Bucknell University in half a decade, has been named the 2007 Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters.

Walcott will receive the award and give a talk Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 8 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell. The talk, titled An Evening with Derek Walcott, 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 Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell.

"His visit to Bucknell will coincide with the 50th anniversary of The Bucknell Review, and the 20th anniversary of the Stadler Center for Poetry," Mitchell said. "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." 

Walcott is the first Nobel Laureate to visit Bucknell since Toni Morrison came to campus in 2002. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

Born in 1930
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 several 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 O 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.

Numerous books of poetry
Walcott has published numerous 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.

Contact: Office of Communications

Posted July 25, 2007
Updated Sept. 12, 2007
Updated Oct. 4, 2007


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