BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, May 18– The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has described the late Nobel Laureate, Sir Derek Walcott, as a “quintessential Caribbean writer” as the region continued to pay tribute to the Saint Lucian cultural icon who died on Friday at the age of 87 years.
CARICOM Secretary General Irwin laRocque said that Sir Derek, a prolific and accomplished writer who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, “has left a void in the tapestry of Caribbean literature and theatre, after more than seven decades of producing inspiring literary works in essays, poetry and plays”.
He said that Sir Derek, who was among the first recipients of the Community’s highest award, the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC) in 1992, was also highly decorated with national and international honours.
“To the Caribbean Community, Walcott was a true Cultural Icon, a gift from St Lucia to the region and the world. He embraced the entire Caribbean as his own. His lyrical poetry and penetrative plays resounded with the rhythm and spirit of the Caribbean Civilisation.”
He said a quintessential Caribbean writer, Walcott is perhaps most celebrated for his epic poem, Omeros (1990), which received widespread global acclaim and has also left “an enduring legacy in theatre by founding the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in 1959 and the Boston Playwright’s Theatre in 1981.
“The Caribbean Community wishes to express sincere condolences to the family of Sir Derek Walcott, the Government and People of Saint Lucia and the artistic community of the Caribbean on the tremendous loss of a gifted and inspiring Caribbean writer. We salute this distinguished son of our region, whose presence in our midst will be greatly missed,” LaRocque added.
The University of the West Indies (UWI) in extending condolences to Walcott’s family recalled that on his 80th birthday, the university honoured him through a showcase of his art and literature in an academic conference, “Interlocking Basins of a Globe”.
This included an exhibition of the Walcott family’s private collection of his paintings and a performance of “Fragments”, a play celebrating his literary works.
In 2014, Walcott launched the Derek Walcott Theatre Arts Scholarship, awarded annually to a UWI Theatre Arts student.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley noted that “Walcott was a prolific writer whose creative works were strongly influenced by Caribbean culture and who also sought to share the West Indian experience with the world.
“ I am deeply saddened by his passing but I am certain that his work, teachings and scholarship will continue to influence a new generation of theatre professionals, writers and poets.”
The Bahamas government said “this luminary of the Caribbean will be sorely missed and we thank him immensely for the rich body of work he has left with us”.
.No date has yet been announced for his funeral.