Nobel laureate accused of sexual harassment
Mr Walcott, 66, who comes from St Lucia, has been accused by a student to whom he taught creative writing at Boston University of threatening to fail her unless she went to bed with him.
Nicole Niemi, a former television reporter who is in her mid-thirties, says she left the university's playwriting course after the incident and returned to her home in St Paul, Minnesota. She is seeking compensation for emotional distress, to cover her university expenses and her legal fees, as well as punitive damages.
Mr Walcott has been asked to return to Boston from his native St Lucia to provide sworn testimony before court officials on 6 June. But he said yesterday: "I am not returning to Boston until fall next year. I am on sabbatical."
He refused to comment on the allegations. "I am not answering any questions on the case," he said.
It is not the first time that the poet has faced such accusations. Only hours after he was awarded the Nobel prize in 1992, a woman accused him of being an "academic sexual predator" while he taught at Harvard. The former student said that he had asked her for sex and gave her a final low grade after she refused.
Mr Walcott, who was later admonished, said that remarks he had made stemmed from his "deliberately personal and intense" teaching style, which he said was necessary to teach the passionate subject of poetry.
Ms Niemi's lawyer, Fred Wilensky, said that she had been very shaken by her experience. "That is why she dropped out; she was propositioned and told the play she wrote for the course would not be produced." Mr Wilensky said he was not confident Mr Walcott would appear on 6 June because his lawyers had indicated that he would not turn up "unless I tell them what we have from other women".
Mr Walcott's lawyers refused to comment last week.
Three times married, Derek Walcott is best known for the poem Omeros - a celebrated epic of rhyming hexameters which relocates the stories of Homer to the Caribbean. He has also written more than 80 plays, most of which show a common concern with classical mythology and colonialism.
When the Swedish Academy gave him the Nobel prize it praised him as West Indian culture's great poet. He also won the W H Smith Literary Award for Omeros. Born in St Lucia in 1930, Mr Walcott is regarded as a hero in the Caribbean.
If Ms Niemi wins her case, her pursuit of damages could wipe out Mr Walcott's remaining Nobel prize money. He won pounds 700,000 in 1992, but the Swedish kroner, in which he was paid, was devalued, and he had to pay 40 per cent tax on the prize in the United States.
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...