Epic poet wins Nobel prize

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The Independent Online
DEREK WALCOTT, the West Indian poet and playwright best- known for his epic poem Omeros - tales from the Iliad and Odyssey set in the Caribbean - has won the 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature, writes Emma Daly. Walcott (above) has received much critical acclaim but is not a household name outside the West Indies. He said that he was 'quite shocked' by the news, but added: 'I'm very happy and I'm rich.'

The Swedish Academy awarded him the pounds 1.2m prize 'for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity . . . the outcome of a multicultural commitment'. Walcott writes, he says, 'about the West Indian search for identity and the damage that the colonial spirit has done to the soul'.

He was born in St Lucia in 1930 and moved in 1953 to Trinidad, a place where 'carnival is regarded as a serious matter and revolution as fun. It is the ambiguity of this view that makes life so interesting.' Walcott teaches creative writing at Boston University in Massachussetts.

At a press conference yesterday Walcott said all the attention was making him 'feel like a phoney, third-rate congressman'. But he added that when he is called a Nobel laureate, 'I suddenly realise that's what I am.'

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(Photograph omitted)

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