The Derek Walcott Prize for poetry


A report from Trinidad and Tobago’s Guardian.

The Derek Walcott Festival, together with Arrowsmith Press and the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, has announced the short list of the first annual Derek Walcott Prize for a full-length book of poems published in 2019 by a living poet who is not a US citizen. The winner, to be selected by Glyn Maxwell, will be announced in July.

The prize includes a US$1,000 cash award, along with a reading at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, the publication of a limited-edition broadside by Arrowsmith Press, and a week-long residency at Derek Walcott’s home in either St Lucia or in Port-of-Spain.

The Walcott Festival Committee comprises Colvin Chen, Sean Hinkson, Yvonne Webber, Geoffrey MacLean, Martin Mouttet, Wendell Manwarren, Roger Roberts, Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw and AnnaWalcott-Hardy. The Committee has expressed its prfound thanks to leading sponsors Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts, The National Gas Company of T&T (NGC), First Citizens, the Australian High Commission (AHC) and LJ Williams. Supporting sponsors include Kapok Hotel, Shell, Methanex, The Massy Foundation, NH International (Caribbean) Limited, Prestige Holdings, Beacon Insurance, Guardian Holdings Ltd, ALNG and PowerGen.

For more information visit:Derek Alton Walcott on Facebook

Ti Jean and His Brothers on Instagram

Askold Melnyczuk at

Sir Derek Alton Walcott, KCSL, OBE, OCC (23 January, 1930 – 17 March, 2017) was a Saint Lucian poet and playwright. Walcott was professor of Poetry and Playwriting at Boston University for 26 years, and received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was the University of Alberta’s first distinguished scholar in residence, where he taught graduate and undergraduate writing courses. He also served as Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex from 2010 to 2013. His works include the Homeric epic poem Omeros (1990), which many view “as Walcott’s major achievement.” In addition to winning the Nobel Prize, Walcott received many literary awards over the course of his career, including an Obie Award in 1971 for his play Dream on Monkey Mountain, a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, a Royal Society of Literature Award, the Queen’s Medal for Poetry, the inaugural OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the 2011 T. S. Eliot Prize for his book of poetry White Egrets, and the Griffin Trust For Excellence in Poetry Lifetime Recognition Award in 2015.

The Derek Walcott Festival in 2019 was produced by Ti Jean Productions Limited and featured an art exhibition of Derek Walcott’s original storyboards, watercolours and oil paintings at Medulla art Gallery in April, as well as poetry readings by the award-winning poet and professor at Cornell University Ishion Hutchinson, and Artistic Director at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Kate Snodgrass.

A panel discussion with Jackie Hinkson, Hutchinson, Snodgrass and Wendell Manwarren that explored ‘Walcott’s Way‘, a multi-layered method of creating art, was facilitated by Sean Hinkson, while two fully subscribed writing workshops were also held by Snodgrass and Hutchinson at the Medulla Art Gallery. The Australian High Commission also hosted a cocktail reception and poetry reading at the residence in Moka, Maraval.

In September 2019, Derek Walcott’s ‘Ti Jean & His Brothers’, directed by Wendell Manwarren with music by Andre Tanker, was staged at Queen’s Hall. With a key objective of bringing the play to a younger audience, the producers and sponsors were able to offer over 400 free tickets to secondary school students throughout T&T. The demand was overwhelming and an additional discounted show was added to the September 2019 run alongside shows for the general public.

Derek Walcott Prize Shortlist:

· T.O. Bobe, Curl (Sean Cotter, translator, Wakefield Press, US)

· Julia Copus, Girlhood (Faber&Faber, UK)

· Douglas Walbourne-Gough, Crow Gulch (Icehouse Poetry-Goose Lane Editions, CA)

· Legna Rodriguez Iglesias, A Little Body Are Many Parts (Abigail Parry and Serafina Vick, translators, Bloodaxe, UK)· Adelaide Ivanova, the hammer and other poems (Rachel Long and Francisco Vilhena, translators, Poetry Translation Center, UK)

· Nick Laird, Feel Free (Norton, USA)

· Ye Lijun, My Mountain Country (Fiona Sze, translator, World Poetry Books, US)

· Arvind Kirshna Mehrotra, Selected Poems and Translations (New York Review of Books, US)

· Kei Miller, In Nearby Bushes (Carcanet, UK)

· Mary Noonan, Stone Girl (Dedalus, Ireland)

· Roger Robinson, A Portable Paradise (Peepal Tree, UK)

· Karen Solie, The Caiplie Caves (Anansi, CA)

· Serhiy Zhadan, What We Live For, What We Die For (Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps, translators, Yale University Press, US)

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