This is how Homer’s myths became universal and durable, treating the big themes: birth and death, loyalty and betrayal, loss and questing, victory and defeat, love and hatred. For centuries, writers have retold them for their own times and places. Derek Walcott’s Omeros treats all of these, but superimposes others: exile and identity, exploitation and resistance
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Omeros is an epic poem by Saint Lucian writer Derek Walcott, first published in 1990. The work is divided into seven “books” containing a total of sixty-four chapters. Many critics view Omeros as Walcott’s “major achievement.” Soon after its publication in 1990, it received praise from publications like The Washington Post and The New York Times Book Review, the latter of which chose the book as one of its “Best Books of 1990” and called it “one of Mr. Walcott’s finest poetic works.” The book also won the WH Smith Literary Award in 1991. In 1992, Walcott was also awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the Nobel committee member who presented the award, Professor Kjell Espmark, singled out Walcott’s most recent achievement at the time, Omeros, recognizing the book as a “major work”. Walcott painted the cover for the book, which depicts some of his main characters at sea together in a boat. In 2004, the critic Hilton Als of The New Yorker called the book “Walcott’s masterpiece” and characterized the poem as “the perfect marriage of Walcott’s classicism and his nativism”.
Walcott, D. (1986). Collected Poems 1948-1984. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.
Walcott, D. (1990). Omeros. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux