Adam Kirsch reviews the new compilation of Derek Walcott’s poetry (The Poetry of Derek Walcott) in next week’s issue of The New Yorker. Here is an excerpt. The complete review (alas!) is only available to subscribers or those purchasing the magazine.
A poet who comes to consciousness on a small island—like Derek Walcott, who was born on St. Lucia in 1930—is doomed, or privileged, to spend a lifetime writing about the sea. The subject matter for Walcott is as consistent and inescapable, potentially as monotonous, as the five beats in a pentameter line. But, like so many great poets before him, he shows that constraints do not have to starve the imagination; they can also nourish it.
What is the sea to Walcott? In the more than six decades covered by “The Poetry of Derek Walcott” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)—a rich and beautiful new selection of his…
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