Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott to Spend Three Weeks at Gustavus

Posted on September 7th, 2010 by

Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott, the 1992 Nobel Prize winner in Literature, will complete a three-week residency at Gustavus Adolphus College from Sept. 20 through Oct. 6 as part of the College’s Rydell Professorship.

The Rydell Professorship is a scholar-in-residence program designed to bring Nobel laureates and similarly distinguished scholars to the Gustavus campus as catalysts for enhancing learning and teaching. It was established in 1995 by Drs. Robert E. and Susan T. Rydell of Minnetonka, Minn., to give students the opportunity to learn from and interact with leading scholars.

The featured event of Walcott’s residency at Gustavus will take place on the evening of Monday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. in Jussi Björling Recital Hall. Walcott will read from several of his poems and the College will confer an honorary doctorate degree upon him during this free, public event.

During his residency, Walcott will be co-teaching a modern poetry class with Gustavus Professor of English Joyce Sutphen. Walcott will also offer a poetry reading in Minneapolis at the Open Book on Sept. 30. Near the end of his residency, Walcott will be present for the 46th annual Nobel Conference.

A poet, playwright, writer, and visual artist, Walcott was born on the island of St. Lucia in 1930. In 1959, he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop and in 1981 he founded Boston  Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University. Walcott retired from teaching poetry and drama in the Creative Writing Department at Boston University in 2007 and is currently in the middle of a three-year distinguished scholar-in-residence position at the University of Alberta.

Walcott has written more than 20 plays, but is best known for his epic poem, Omeros. The work is, in part, a Caribbean retelling of stories from Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad, interwoven with the history of colonialism on Walcott’s native island of St. Lucia along with the poet-narrator’s own transatlantic wanderings and musings. The multi-layered mosaic of the poem is mainly written in terza rima and has been widely praised for its imaginative scope and inventive use of language.

While Omeros remains Walcott’s most widely known work, he has published more than 20 volumes of poetry. In addition to his Nobel Prize, Walcott has won many awards for his poetry, including a Royal Society of Literature Award, the Queen’s Medal for Poetry, and a fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation.

For more information about Walcott’s residency at Gustavus, contact Professor of English Phil Bryant at 507-933-7393 or or Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Tom Lofaro at 507-933-7463 or


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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