Literary Birthday – 23 January – Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott was born 23 January 1930 and died 17 March 2017.

Nine Quotes

  1. I read; I travel; I become.
  2. The future happens. No matter how much we scream.
  3. I went to my mother and said, ‘I’d like to publish a book of poems, and I think it’s going to cost me two hundred dollars.’ She was just a seamstress and a schoolteacher, and I remember her being very upset because she wanted to do it. Somehow she got it—a lot of money for a woman to have found on her salary. She gave it to me, and I sent off to Trinidad and had the book printed. When the books came back I would sell them to friends. I made the money back.
  4. The truest writers are those who see language not as a linguistic process but as a living element.
  5. I come from a place that likes grandeur; it likes large gestures; it is not inhibited by flourish; it is a rhetorical society; it is a society of physical performance; it is a society of style.
  6. Any serious attempt to try to do something worthwhile is ritualistic.
  7. The English language is nobody’s special property. It is the property of the imagination: it is the property of the language itself.
  8. A culture, we all know, is made by its cities.
  9. What we were deprived of was also our privilege. There was a great joy in making a world that so far, up to then, had been undefined… My generation of West Indian writers has felt such a powerful elation at having the privilege of writing about places and people for the first time and, simultaneously, having behind them the tradition of knowing how well it can be done—by a Defoe, a Dickens, a Richardson.

Derek Walcott was a Saint Lucian poet and playwright. He received the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. His works include the Homeric epic poem Omeros.

Source for Image: Bert Nienhuis, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

Please click here for our Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 23rd January 2015