Students Staff

11 December 2009

Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott is new Professor of Poetry

Professor Derek Walcott

Internationally acclaimed poet, and winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature Derek Walcott is to work with University of Essex students as Professor of Poetry.

The Caribbean poet, playwright, essayist and visual artist will visit the University’s Colchester Campus for the first of two stays in April 2010 when he will deliver student workshops and a public reading.

Professor Walcott, who does not often travel to the UK, last gave a public reading in the country at the University in September 2008 when he was awarded an Honorary Degree. He has recently published a retrospective collection of poems spanning six decades (Selected Poems, Faber and Faber, 2009) and will publish a new collection of poems, White Egrets, in 2010 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Faber and Faber). His visit to Essex offers members of the public a rare opportunity to hear him speak.

Dr Maria Cristina Fumagalli, Senior Lecturer in the University’s Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies and an expert on the work of Derek Walcott, said: ‘During his two-week visit, Derek will be working directly with our students delivering poetry and theatre workshops. We also hope to host an academic conference focusing on his writing and there may be an exhibition of his artworks.
‘This is an incredible opportunity not only for our students, but also for the general public. Very rarely do people get the chance to learn directly from a writer of this calibre.’

Professor Walcott said: ‘I am delighted to be Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex. When I was awarded my Honorary Doctorate last year I was impressed by the warm atmosphere and intellectual drive of the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies which is home to formidable scholars and committed Caribbeanists. While I was there I also had the opportunity to meet talented and enthusiastic students and I am really looking forward to working with this cohort of emerging writers.’

Prize-winning author, Marina Warner, who is also a Professor at the University added: ‘Derek Walcott is a major poet whose writings include drama, essays, lyric and epic poetry; and it is a marvellous and exciting boon that he is coming to us as Professor of Poetry. The University is approaching its 50th anniversary, and since its foundation under the poet Donald Davie, the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies has hosted international writers and poets, including Robert Lowell and Denise Levertov. Our strong tradition of research and teaching in creative writing as well as in the literature of the Caribbean is growing vigorously, and Derek Walcott’s presence will be an added inspiration.’

Notes to editors
For further information, or a picture of Derek Walcott, please contact the University of Essex Communications Office, telephone: 01206 873529 or e-mail:

Derek Walcott was born in St Lucia, in the West Indies, in 1930. The author of many plays and books of poetry, he was awarded the Queen's Medal for Poetry in 1988, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. Most recently he has published a retrospective collection of poems (Selected Poems, Faber and Faber, 2009). His forthcoming collection of new poems, White Egrets, is to be published in 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Faber and Faber. He divides his time between homes in St Lucia and New York.

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