Nobel winner Walcott scoops T.S. Eliot poetry prize

Mon Jan 24, 2011 3:41pm EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - St. Lucia poet Derek Walcott, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992, scooped the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry on Monday for his 2010 collection "White Egrets."

He was chosen from a shortlist of 10 authors including Seamus Heaney, who has won the award before.

"This year's exceptionally strong and varied shortlist made it difficult to choose the winner, but the judges felt that Derek Walcott's White Egrets was a moving, risk-taking and technically flawless book by a great poet," said Anne Stevenson, fellow poet and chair of the judging panel.

Walcott, who has just turned 81, came to the attention of the public in 1962 with a collection of poems called "In a Green Night," which celebrated the Caribbean.

In "Omeros" (1990), an epic poem considered his most ambitious and accomplished work, he invoked Caribbean voices through Greek myth, drawing on Homer's "Iliad" and "Odyssey."

Two years later, he was awarded the Nobel Prize, and in its citation, the Swedish Academy said: "He has both African and European blood in his veins. In him West Indian culture has found its great poet."

In a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph newspaper, Walcott described the power of rhyme thus: "Rhyme is an attempt to reassemble and reaffirm the possibility of paradise. There is a wholeness, a serenity in sounds coupling to form a memory." Walcott receives a check for 15,000 pounds ($24,000). Each of the shortlisted poets receives 1,000 pounds.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

 
<p>Literature Nobel laureate Derek Walcott sits inside the library of Oviedo's University March 21, 2006. REUTERS/Eloy Alonso</p>