Walcott and Oxford: The Times Perspective

Derek Walcott
For the writer of "Profile: Derek Walcott: A smear silences the colonial bard" to suggest that Walcott's withdrawal from the race for Oxford's professor of poetry as a summative "final act," is at best reductionist thinking that borders on colonialist paternalism.

Walcott's greatness lies in the unrivaled body of work that he has created for the past fifty years. Nobel laureates, Oxford professorships and other awards are "loosely worn garments," and throughout this minor ordeal, Walcott has demonstrated the kind of dignity that I have always associated with his verse.


He is the modern world’s greatest living poet. Or a dirty old man who should
not be left alone with female students. Or both. Or neither. Of those four
options, only the last seems wholly unlikely in the case of Derek Walcott.
The winner of the 1992 Nobel prize in literature and the most widely
applauded writer to have emerged from the cultural stewpot of the Caribbean
could have woken up this morning as Oxford University’s professor of poetry.


This little tragedy may just be the final act.


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Comments

Fly Girl said…
Derek Walcott's legacy will outlast all the narrow opinions and colonial bias.
groundwork said…
Yes, agree, and now it's all collapsing around Ms Padel. I think Oxford should make an exception and grant Walcott a position as Extraordinary Professor of Poetry (for the sake of the lectures). I mean, which other practising poet knows the tradition of poetry in English inside out, which poet has turned that tradition inside out and claimed it as his own in such a powerful way that it can no longer be said that the English canon belongs to English poets. God I'm angry that it was lost to him through such a mean and petty manner and clearly started by a poetaster. I know Walcott wanted that job for the recognition, placing him even more firmly inside the canon, and not simply as 'post-colonial' poet. Yes, his oeuvre stands, rock solid, but he would still have been able to join a list of poets in that Professorship whom he admires. He must be seething. But Ms Padel must now already feel the growth of a cancer inside her: her lying and meanspiritedness, now public, will eat at her. I don't know how she can write a line of verse after this.

And we will miss those lectures, which certainly would have been a fitting swansong from Walcott.
"which other practising poet knows the tradition of poetry in English inside out, which poet has turned that tradition inside out and claimed it as his own in such a powerful way that it can no longer be said that the English canon belongs to English poets."

I couldn't have said it better!

Welcome, Groundwork!

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