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Walcott, our Laureate

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As I probably wrote before, Brother-man’s much vaunted Lady B package also included a copy Derek Walcott’s Nobel Lecture.  It’s hardcover & the first edition.  The proper title is, “The Antilles:  Fragments of Epic Memory.”  It’s a slim (unpaginated, if you please) volume with a rather hoity-toity blurb.  I just finished reading it.  The blurb is rubbish, and the text is amazing.

For all my love of Walcott’s work, I never heard his lecture to the Academy.  I only learned about him after-the-fact.  I got a copy of “Omeros” for Christmas 1992 – precisely because he, a son of St. Lucia, won the Prize in Literature that very month.  My father’s idea of a perfect gift for his sixth form daughter and her head full of A’Level English.  I inhaled “Omeros” – it’s paginated to 325.  Then really became a fan after hearing Walcott read in April ’93 at the Globe Theatre in Kingston.

The lecture is a moving, beautiful thing.  To say, as he does:

At last, islands not written about but writing themselves.

Caribbean culture isn’t inconceivable but will be self-contradictory.  His benediction for a fresh language and a fresh people.  Spoken almost 17 years ago.

Thanks, Brother-man.  Made my day.

ETA: Well, all posts are E&OE… After reading this, my Father wrote to point out some errors.  He also took a jab at my flawless memory.  First of all – it’s the Ward Theatre in downtown Kingston.  My bad.   He quibbled with the date of the reading but that is right.  I know because Walcott dated his autograph.

Less critically, he says Auntie Gloria was teaching either Lear or King Henry IV Part 1 for Father HoLung.  While I am editing, I should add he only ever speaks of Father as Dickie HoLung.  Yep, a story lies behind that bit of irreverance.  Far be it from me to repeat it – bad memory & all!

Author: iriegemini

Lara is originally from Jamaica, living in the Greater Toronto Area with N, and a cat, Melvin. She knits, spins, weaves, and is a chatterbox on all of the above. Lara's journey began as a young girl with her Grandmother's cross-stitch embroidery stash & blessing.

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