The world recognises a nation of the imagination: Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott, who has described himself as 'a colonial upstart at the end of an empire', a man with 'no nation now but the imagination', had the world at his feet yesterday after winning this year's Nobel Prize for literature. Walcott, 62, was born in St Lucia and is the first writer from the Caribbean to win the prize. He spends his time in Trinidad, Britain and the US. 'Port of Spain', from The Fortunate Traveller (1982), sums up his ambiguous relations with his islands.

Port of Spain

Midsummer stretches before me with a cat's yawn.

Trees with dust on their lips, cars melting down

in a furnace. Heat staggers the drifting mongrels.

The capitol has been repainted rose, the rails

round the parks the colour of rusting blood;

Junta and coup d'etat, the newest Latino mood,

broods on the balcony. Monotonous lurid bushes

brush the damp air with the ideograms of buzzards

over the Chinese groceries. The oven alleys stifle

where mournful tailors peer over old machines

stitching June and July together seamlessly,

and one waits for lightning as the armed sentry

hopes in boredom for the crack of a rifle -

but I feed on its dust, its ordinariness,

on the inertia that fills its exiles with horror,

on the dust over the hills with their orange lights,

even on the pilot light in the reeking harbour

that turns like a police car's. The terror

is local, at least. Like the magnolia's whorish whiff.

And the dog barks of the revolution crying wolf.

The moon shines like a lost button;

the black water stinks under the sodium lights on

the wharf. The night is turned on as firmly

as a switch, dishes clatter behind bright windows,

I walk along the walls with occasional shadows

that say nothing. Sometimes, in narrow doors

there are old men playing the same quiet games -

cards, draughts, dominoes. I give them names.

The night is companionable, the day is as fierce as

our human future anywhere. I can understand

Borges's blind love of Buenos Aires,

how a man feels the veins of a city swell in his hand.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before