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Compiled by Joseph Valickus '09, Executive Undergraduate Intern, Office of Communications

On “Selected Poems”

"No poet rivals Mr. Walcott in humor, emotional depth, lavish inventiveness in language or in the ability to express the thoughts of his characters and compel the reader to follow the swift mutations of ideas and images in their minds . . . [His poetry] makes us realize that history, all of it, belongs to us." —The New York Times

On “Collected Poems 1948 – 1984”

"One of the most instructive experiences afforded by this collected edition is the spectacle of a poet moving with gradually deepening confidence to found his own poetic domain, independent of the tradition he inherited yet not altogether orphaned from it . . . This is a triumphant book." —Seamus Heaney, The Boston Globe

"It is difficult to think of a poet in our century who--without ever betraying his native sources--has so organically assimilated the evolution of English literature from the Renaissance to the present, who has absorbed the Classical and Judeo-Christian past, and who has mined the history of Western painting as Walcott has. Throughout his entire body of work he has managed to hold in balance his passionate moral concerns with the ideal of art. By his fifty-fifth year Derek Walcott has made his culture, history, and sociology into a myth for our age and into an epic song that has already taken its place in the history of Western literature." —Peter Balakian, Poetry

On “Omerus”

"Characters come fully and movingly to life in Walcott's hands; black and white are treated with equal understanding and sympathy as they go their complicated ways . . . Wit and verbal play . . . enliven every page of this extraordinary poem . . . A constant source of surprise and delight from stanza to stanza, a music so subtle, so varied, so exquisitely right that it never once, in more than eight thousand lines, strikes a false note."—Bernard Knox, The New York Review of Books

"One of the great poems of our time."—John Lucas, New Statesman and Society

“Mr. Walcott's epic is a significant and timely reminder that the past is not the property of those who first created it; it always matters to all of us, no matter who we are or where we were born.”—Mary Lefkowitz, The New York Times Book Review

On “The Prodigal, A Poem”

"Derek Walcott's virtues as a poet are extraordinary . . . He could turn his attention on anything at all and make it live with a reality beyond its own; through his fearless language it becomes not only its acquired life, but the real one, the one that lasts." —James Dickey, The New York Times Book Review

"Like the best poetry, the combination of luminosity and precision is what allows it to be both old and new at the same time ... One couldn't ask for better. [The Prodigal] is an accessible book, and a noble one." —The Economist

On “Dream on Monkey Mountain and Other Plays”

"Dream on Monkey Mountain is a poem in dramatic form or a drama in poetry, and poetry is rare in the modern theatre. Every line of it plays...there is a sound psychological basis for every action and emotion." —Edith Oliver, The New Yorker

On “What the Twilight Says: Essays”

"There is no one writing in English at present who can join power with delicacy the way Walcott can." —Sven Birkerts The New Republic

"Walcott is a kingfisher critic, with flashing insights, an original who writes a profound, poetic prose . . . Derek Walcott's words go from strength to strength." —Paula Burnett, The Times (London)

On “The Bounty: Poems”

"Walcott is a master of . . . easy, careless abundance." —William Logan, The New York Times Book Review

"A prime aged Porterhouse steak, four times as thick as this slim volume, [could] not match the rich density of this new collection, the Nobel laureate's first since his epic Omeros. Walcott's lines are marbled with imagery worth savoring on the tongue before swallowing: 'burnt sheaves of tall corn / shriven and bearded in chorus.' He forges a connection between the human heart and the earth that is reminiscent of the best Irish poetry. But the potatoes are supplanted by breadfruit, and the ache of a farmer's sacrifice to a historic land is replaced by a frequent flyer's knowledge that the soil of Poland and Parang, Spain and Boston, can all bury the bodies of loved ones or grow rich and dark with memory." —Publishers Weekly

"Walcott has moved with gradually deepening confidence to find his own poetic domain, independent of the tradition he inherited yet not altogether orphaned from it . . . The Walcott line is still sponsored by Shakespeare and the Bible, happy to surprise by fine excess. It can be incantatory and self-entrancing . . . It can be athletic and demotic . . . It can compel us with the almost hydraulic drag of its words." —Seamus Heaney

"[This is] Walcott's first collection of poems since he won the Nobel in 1992 . . . All the master's gifts are prodigally displayed here: an ear that finds liquid music in 'fast water quarrelling over clear stones,' a wit that sees death--the state of wordlessness--as 'beyond declension,' and an attentiveness that [notes how] squirrels 'spring up like questions' . . . Images keep recurring, crisscrossing, gaining new associations in verses that have the noble radiance of stained glass, grave but full of light. In his twilight hours, the poet often berates himself for not having hymned [his native island of] St. Lucia as he should. In the end, however, he realizes that what has sustained him all along are the 'immortelle' and 'wild mammy-apple' of his 'generous Eden.' As the waves of his melodious argument wash up at last on the shores of thanksgiving and affirmation, one realizes that there is no more serious, or more sonorous, writer living." —Pico Iyer, Time