The following statement was issued by CARICOM Secretary General, Ambassador Irwin La Rocque, on the passing of renowned Caribbean poet and playwright, Saint Lucian born Nobel Laureate, Sir Derek Walcott:
On behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), I wish to express profound sympathy on the passing of internationally acclaimed Caribbean poet and playwright, Saint Lucian born Nobel Laureate, Sir Derek Walcott, OCC.
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. The boy prodigy, who published his first poetry collection at age 14, evolved into a global literary legend.
Sir Derek was among the first recipients of the community’s highest award, the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC) in 1992. He was also highly decorated with national and international honours, most notably Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1972; and Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Lucia (KCSL) in 2016.
To the Caribbean Community, Walcott was a true cultural icon, a gift from Saint 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 civilization.
A quintessential Caribbean writer, Walcott is perhaps most celebrated for his epic poem, Omeros (1990), which received widespread global acclaim from publications such as The Washington Post and The New York Times Book Review, which chose Omeros as one of the “Best Books of 1990.” His play, Dream on Monkey Mountain (1970), was produced on NBC-TV and performed off-Broadway in 1970 and 1971, respectively, and also won the prestigious Obie Award for “Best Foreign Play” in 1971. He also left an enduring legacy in theatre by founding the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in 1959 and the Boston Playwright’s Theatre in 1981.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Walcott also won many literary awards over the course of his sterling career, including a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award (1981); the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry (1988); the WH Smith Literary Award for Omeros (1990); the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Lifetime Achievement (2004); the T.S Eliot Prize (2011) for his book of poetry White Egrets; and the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry Recognition Award in 2015, among several others.
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.