Letter: A classic laureate

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I understand that the choice of Poet Laureate will be made in April. It has been claimed that Derek Walcott is "in an older classical tradition, feared to be out of touch with fashionable poetic concerns". This rings an alarm bell for the future of our language.

The essence of fashion is that it is here today and gone tomorrow. Does this apply to the work of laureates Hughes, Betjeman, Tennyson? Is it "out of touch with poetic concerns" and therefore the public, to write of a new identity in the post-colonial world for those uprooted from their history, their language?

Perhaps it is unfashionable, in our present educational climate, to have imbued oneself, as Walcott has, with the "older classical tradition" from Homer through Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth.

There is surely no poet other than Walcott of such deserved international stature or who speaks with such relevance for Britain and the Commonwealth. It has been suggested that the literary academic world cannot accept that the best poet writing in the English language today is black. What a wasted opportunity if this unique concurrence should be lost.

JILL DANIEL

Bodmin, Cornwall

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