Saint Lucia mourns “a great loss” – Sir Derek Walcott

The reknowned poet and playwright, Sir Derek Walcott passed away at 87.

Sir Derek Walcott passed away at his residence on the morning of March 17, 2017. He was 87 years old.

Sir Derek Alton Walcott, KCSL OBE OCC was born on Jan 23, 1930 and was Saint Lucia’s most renowned poet and playwright. The recipient of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature, he also served as Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex from 2010 to 2013.

A statement released by his family on the morning of the 17th read: “Derek Alton Walcott, poet, playwright, and painter, died peacefully today, Friday, March 17, at his home in Cap Estate, Saint Lucia. He was 87 years old and will be greatly missed by his family and friends. The funeral will be held in Saint Lucia and details will be announced shortly.”

In the wake of  his passing, Prime Minister Hon. Allen Chastanet also made a statement.

“Today is a very historical day with the passing of Sir Derek Walcott, a household name in Saint Lucia. When anyone speaks about excellence and describes Saint with any form of superlative, clearly the two names that stand tall in Saint Lucia’s history are Sir Arthur Lewis and now Sir Derek Walcott. It has become customary for us to see Sir Derek and know that he was here all the time. He made himself so available and participated in so many national events here in Saint Lucia. Derek truly was a Caribbean patron.

“My deepest sympathies go to his partner, Sigrid, Derek’s family and his children. It is a great loss to Saint Lucia. It is a great loss to the world, but we can now sit back and reflect on his achievements as they are so incredible.”

Derek Walcott self-published his first book, “25 Poems” when he was 18. His body of work includes: 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).

The titan of Caribbean literature received numerous awards including a Royal Society of Literature Award, the Queen’s medal of Poetry, and a MacArthur Foundation genius award.

Prime Minister Chastanet has ordered that all flags in Saint Lucia be flown at half-mast until Tuesday.