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“St. Lucia loses a national treasure” – CDF mourns Derek Walcott

By CDF

220px-derek_walcottPRESS RELEASE – The arts fraternity, Saint Lucia and the world has lost one of its noted literary icons, Sir Derek Walcott.  He died at 87 on Friday 17th March at home, in the company of family and friends.

The Board of Management and staff of the Cultural Development Foundation extend condolences to Sigrid Nama, his partner of many years, his children and the arts fraternity, particularly the writers and poets whose lives and work he influenced tremendously.  Our sympathies extend to Saint Lucia as a nation, who without doubt are proud and honoured to call him a true son of Saint Lucia.  He was very vocal about the island’s culture and heritage and its preservation and his love for Saint Lucia and the Caribbean was evident in his numerous mentions of “home” in his work.

A distinguished playwright and poet, Sir Derek Walcott received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. He self-published his first book, 25 Poems when he was 18.  His illustrious body of work includes: Three Plays: The Last Carnival; Beef, No Chicken and A Branch of the Blue Nile (1969), Dream on Monkey Mountain and Other Plays (1970), The Joker of Seville and O Babylon! (1978), Remembrance and Pantomime (1980), The Isle is Full of Noises (1982), Omeros (1990) and The Odyssey: A Stage Version (1992).

Sir Derek Walcott has received numerous awards including a Royal Society of Literature Award, the Queen’s medal of Poetry and a MacArthur Foundation genius award.  In 2016, as part of Independence celebrations, he was given the title of “Sir”, one of the first to be knighted under the Order of Saint Lucia.

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18 comments

  1. There are few people who truly embody the term Icon. Sir Derek Walcott did that quite easily. We St. Lucians need to aspire to greatness and stop making excuses. A Nobel Laureate from St. Lucia; no not one, but two Nobel Laureates from St. Lucia. That is such an achievement it's hard to express adequately through words alone. Goodbye Sir Derek, hopefully somewhere in St. Lucia, now or in the future there's someone being prepared to reach the heights you did. RIP oh great man!

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  2. It is noteworthy that this story is captured ON THE FRONT PAGE of today's NEW YORK TIMES. Note the following. The story is carried not only on its front page, but also where on this page it is placed---ABOVE THE FOLD". And this last point is very significant in terms of significance.

    The brief piece did go beyond the issue of just poetry. Just like in the works of William Shakespeare, the philosophy underlining his work was mentioned. In this regard, his anti-colonialism received honourable mention.

    For all those who main intention is simply to write like him, there is much more. Read "A City's Death by Fire" for example: http://loganmurphy96.weebly.com/literary-analysis.html

    But perhaps the greatest homage and great learning points from the passing of our laureate is to pause and relish his quotes and sayings: http://www.inspiringquotes.us/author/9315-derek-walcott

    It is agreed. His work should be part of essential literally instruction in all our schools---at all levels and translated for lower levels. When too, we focus on one of his memorable quotes:

    “A culture, we all know, is made by its cities.” 

    a call made for one of our cities, rather than just any mere street, being renamed Derek Walcott, I believe (in literary terms) from “the horse’s mouth”, the case is well made.

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    • How we as Saint Lucians recognize and pay adequate tribute to this man's life, will bear testimony to the whole world, our national sense of value and personal worth. The whole world is watching.

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  3. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE AND REST IN PEACE DEAR SIR WALCOTT...

    How should he be remembered? What about building that National Theatre that he wanted to see built for the development of the Arts in Saint Lucia..and dedicated in his name...nothing will be more inspiring to our people by such a gesture. And how about making his works compulsory study from primary to tertiary level education in Saint Lucia...

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  4. Derek Walcott was ours and I am truly proud. He was the greatest Caribbean poet. May his soul Rest in peace.

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  5. I firmly believe that the aim of "Anonymous" was not for us to create more Derek Walcotts, the poet, etc. The word aspire as it was used there it seems, to suggest that giving an entire city his name will do a great deal more to inspire the us to achieve or reach for greatness than just another street sign. The house will do some good. But you have to come to Saint Lucia physically to see it. Otherwise you may have to read about it in the LIAT magazine. But his name instead of Castries or Vieux Fort on a very small map of Saint Lucia would steal the cake.
    This change may even encourage or amaze visitors enough, to come to see the place that was named after him. This I believe, may be called called heritage tourism. But that is besides the point. A street name and square in Castries do not show the same kind of value, respect and appreciation, as would a whole city.

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  6. A true and great son of the soil, who has made St.Lucia proud! May he RIP. (@ Jerry_Can; very well said.)

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  7. Today Saint Lucia has been recognised not for its Greatness but on the contrary its loss, its a Very heart wreaking time for the beloved of Sir Walcott. My condolences goes out to you, As a young man of 24 Sir Walcott has inspired my vocabulary to immense heights today let Saint Lucia rejoice for a Great man lived in her lands, His words were like a parable to the deaf,digging depths and ascending the heavens, I rate this man Great in my book, Long live Sir Dereck Walcott, let his memory be Unique, No building can support his memory nor street corner give way to his passage, Let this Great man be remembered for his Legacy .

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  8. BLESS HIS SOUL

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  9. Could we rename Castries, Gros Islet or Vieux Fort as DERECK WALCOT in his honor, please?

    Could we name important cross streets with important buildings throughout the entire country as Corners of Walcot and Lewis Streets?

    Every time anyone mentions these two greats in such a fashion would inspire, "we the living", of what is great about us, Saint Lucians. What better inspiration can we give the living and future generations, with such recognition as renaming AN ENTIRE CITIES after these greats.

    To me, for some of our confused youth, doing this would served to be exceedingly aspirational! Think.

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    • You want to rename an entire city or town? I vote for a street.

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      • Who convincingly remembers a street---unless you belong to, or constantly visit the city or town with a particular street name? The laureates stand head and shoulders above many others recognized by this country. Why do you want to equalize their singular achievements by giving them the very same kind of recognition? They stand out at home and abroad. Why not give them the kind of recognition they deserve?

        How does that sound to your ears? "Formerly called Gros Islet, we are celebrating our 40th Independence Festival this year in---Derek Walcott."

        What do words like independence mean to you? When are we going to dump those "Royal ...." titles too?

        How about renaming Castries after Saint Lucians instead of---after the French?

        Say for example, we position ourselves to say this in a conversation:

        "The new home for the Technology & Innovation Development Enterprises Building (the TIDE Building), is to be located at the Corner of Derek Walcott and Arthur Lewis Streets, in Arthur Lewis."

        Just as when we become a more mature society, from time to time, we will have to transition to new names, using both---at the same time---for a while, until the new name sticks.

        Take for example, if we become some kind of republic, the same will have to be done regarding such name changes with those former "The Royal Saint Lucia ...." this or that. Lots of preprinted letterheads may well have to be discarded.

        Listen. If we are not mentally prepared for psychological developmental change, all of these similarly unthinking, knee-jerk "Saint Lucia for Saint Lucians." slogans will continue to ring hollow.

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        • that is a good idea but i dont think that will work out because all of the names of the constituencies or maybe most of them have alot of history behind their name calling and also their meanings. as for the royal titles am not sure if it will be easy to remove because its something the queen of england gave.

          for instance i just learned that it was the queen who named the police force royal. so its like the queen giving you a title when she knights someone hence calling them sir what ever and then for you to denounce it and change it back so am not sure if that is even possible of doing unless they need to change some legislation or something. but am sure they will name something useful after him other than the dereck walcott square

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      • Wow! What a sad way to cheapen such a wonderful person and memory.

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      • A street is an insult to the memory and the heights of achievement. You are a typical Saint Lucian. Most Saint Lucians have no understanding of the value and contribution. Did you know about his world contributions before his death?

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    • Anonymous, with all due respect... Renaming a whole town, a road or a building, will NOT create any aspirations among "WE THE LIVING." This thing about naming places after people when they die has to stop.
      You want to know how we aspire St. Lucian's about Sir Derek? Add his literature to our curriculum. Take your children to see his works of art in the newly restored Walcott House. PARTICIPATE in Nobel Laureate Week (schools, businesses, EVERYONE). SUPPORT his plays when they are shown at the Cultural Center. Become familiar with his work. That's how you inspire "WE THE LIVING," Anonymous. Not by renaming GrosIslet to Derek WalcottTown.

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      • One of these days, if we still have a moral compass, and the more fibre to say wrong is wrong, we may have to swallow and lump it. All the while, we will have to ignore moral failings coming to light, sometime after we have poured great national recognition and honours upon the living.
        OK, you say. We can, with great embarrassment, withdraw the national decorations. But that is only if the right political party is in power.

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  10. May he RIP.

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