Walcott on Omeros

Via Rethabile at Poéfrika from Lesotho-France, from Geoffrey Philps all the way in Jamdown, an audio file of Derek Walcott reading from and talking about Omeros for BBC World Book Club.

While Walcott sometimes misses the point of a question or his humour falls flat, it is still a pleasure listening to him, where the crack of age adds another dimension to his voice as he insists that Omeros is not a re-writing or a re-framing of Homer in the Caribbean. For me the power of Walcott’s poetry has always been its associative abilities, drawing connections through association, insinuation, rather than any direct line. To him the relationship between Omeros and Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey is one of association, allusion, as it should be with literary ancestors.

My favourite bit is when Walcott mentions his morning ritual when writing:

I live near the sea… on the edge of the beach. And I would get up in the morning – in those days I smoked, thank god – I would get up, and I knew I was getting up not really to work, but to smoke and have a coffee…

You can find the audio file here, where Geoffrey Philps also has links to an extended section on Walcott, one a piece on why Philps would trust Walcott more than his pastor.


4 Responses to Walcott on Omeros

  1. swimmingup says:

    I liked what Walcott said about living in St Lucia – how sometimes he’ll come around a corner and catch his breath at the landscape, how that informs his writing, a sense of place.

  2. Rustum, first give thanks for the link & I, too, am always amazed when I am in the Caribbean “how sometimes I’ll come around a corner and catch my breath at the landscape”


  3. Rustum says:

    Hi Geoffrey

    glad to see you dropping by. I have the same response to landscape here; but Walcott, of course, also embodies those moments in his poetry, so that the reader is moved by it.

    As someone from the Caribbean, do you feel Walcott’s poetry as an accurate reflection of the place – I mean, in his poetry, do you see what you see around you?

  4. Most definitely. It is that sense of place in poems that I have carried with me to South Florida.
    Something that i learned from Walcott and Braithwaite.

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