One poem by Derek Walcott: Glyn Maxwell

Most poets, when they leaf back through their work to select the Best of Themselves, tend to want grown-ups around: poems from not so long ago, poems that show what the poet came to, what he or she did when he or she grew up, poems they can talk to. The awkward youngsters in the wrong styles are not so welcome at the party. Who are they? Why are they dressed like that? What on earth would they have to say? What could they possibly know?

So early poems can have a hard time getting admitted, once a consensus has formed around a handful of the brilliant young Chosen—in the case of Walcott there’s “As John to Patmos,” “Prelude,” “A City’s Death By Fire,” glimpses of great talent in a restless teenager. They were me becoming me. Their one-time colleagues have fallen away. One can find them, but it takes a while. So the first among many joys of being asked to make the choices for a new Selected Walcott was to find some poems of very long ago that thought they had been forgotten.

I chose “The Sisters of Saint Joseph” from Poems (1957)…

Read more in Little Star Weekly

Glyn Maxwell edited The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013, out this month. His most recent book of poems is Pluto. His book On Poetry was published in the United States last autumn. Derek Walcott is the author of fourteen books of poems, numerous plays, and a book of essays. He received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992.





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