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!