Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The President reads Walcott

'... sinuous swans ...'
Derek Walcott, Omeros XXXVIII, III

I had the privilege of hearing St Lucian and Nobel poet Derek Walcott at the Guardian Hay Festival the summer before last; and was captivated by his outlook on the world, and particularly by his book, Omeros which I bought in The [excellent!] Poetry Bookshop in Hay.

Here in the UK rumours currently abound in the press regarding the identity of the Poet Laureate Designate. Poetry, it seems, is equally alive and well on the opposite side of the Atlantic. I am grateful to the Poets who Blog site for pointing me in the direction of an article on CityFile about US President Obama reading Walcott's Collected Poems - thereby presumably encouraging others in the support of poetry.

I have already mentioned my early love of the tales and travels of the Greek hero, Odysseus. Omeros as the name implies, is another epic poem about the web of human existence exemplified in sea travel and culture: indeed it is - in my humble opinion - a singularly fascinating 'take' on Homer's Odyssey. It is more than that: it is a new and unique work in its own right (though I use the word 'new' advisedly as the book was first published in 1990!). The poem makes use of the engaging Terza Rima form of chiming verse, a form used effectively by Dante.

My copy from Hay came for good measure with a news cutting inside the cover: 'Hustling Homer' by Oliver Taplin, who was reviewing a production of 'The Odyssey' (Walcott style) at The Other Place in Stratford. The production was, apparently and appropriately, 'a cyclopean feat of poetry'!

Further information


Susan Richardson said...

Regretfully, I had to miss Derek Walcott at Hay - wonderful that you got to hear him.

(And wonderful to have you back blogging again!)

Mistlethrush said...

Hi Caroliine - great to see you're back.