Poet Derek Walcott named among St. Lucia’s first Knighthood recipients

Poet and playwright Derek Walcott

Walcott named Knight Commander of the Order of St. Lucia

Derek Walcott, the 1992 Nobel Prize winner for Literature, has been named among the first recipients of the knighthood by St. Lucia as the island celebrates its 37th anniversary of political independence from Britain.

Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy Monday announced that Walcott, 86, who has won many literary awards, has been named a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Lucia for “exceptional and outstanding service to national importance to St. Lucia”.

Former prime minister and Professor at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Vaughan Lewis has also been named a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Lucia.

Dame Pearlette also announced that Lawrence Martha Priscilla Laurent had also received the award for exceptional and outstanding service to St. Lucia.

The St. Lucia Cross was awarded posthumously to Harold Calixte Simmons for distinguished service and contribution to Culture and the Arts and veteran journalist Earl Bousquet received the St. Lucia Medal of Honour (Gold). For “outstanding contribution in the field of journalism.

Born on the island of Saint Lucia, a former British colony in the West Indies, poet and playwright Derek Walcott was trained as a painter but turned to writing as a young man. He published his first poem in the local newspaper at the age of 14.

Since the 1950s Walcott has divided his time between Boston, New York, and Saint Lucia. His work resonates with Western canon and Island influences, sometimes even shifting between Caribbean patois and English, and often addressing his English and West Indian ancestry.

Walcott is also a renowned playwright. In 1971 he won an Obie Award for his play Dream on Monkey Mountain, which The New Yorker described as “a poem in dramatic form.

In addition to his Nobel Prize, Walcott’s honors include a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, a Royal Society of Literature Award, and, in 1988, the Queen’s Medal for Poetry. He is an honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He is Professor of Poetry at Essex University.

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