I wish that this title could have been “Hi Derek” since one of my goals was to meet you and tell you that you inspire me. To tell you that last summer I made it my business to educate myself and get acquainted with your work. And I wish I could tell you how I kept renewing “White Egrets” and getting fees charged not because I never finished reading but because I borrowed it to a friend and didn’t get it back in time. I am being honest Derek.
Growing up I knew your name. I knew that you were one of the greats in the small island of St.Lucia that produced something that is unheard of ! Two Nobel Laureates with such a critical mass of people. Sir Derek Walcott and Sir Arthur Lewis our heroes. I never sought pass this until last year and I am so happy I sought while you breathed this air that I now breath, that in some way your energy through your works flowed within me and Derek you have inspired me, you have touched and exposed a space within me that was waiting for a light to shine and say “there you are”
The news of your death didn’t make me sad though I must say a tear flowed from my heart to my mind that may have leaked from my eyes. I have no doubt that your death is rebirth. Did you know the beauty of your soul Derek? Did you know that your work is a piece of heaven dipped in ink on papyrus destined to last as an artifact, ancient knowledge for the common man or the scholar seeking to be like you and more?
What makes you so beautiful to me Derek is that you are from where I am. You know Sessene Descartes. You know about Jouney Kweyol. You know what a ‘cabaway’ is. You embraced carnival. All these things that seems undesirable about our culture you made it into beauty through alchemizing reality to beauty you said;
“I come from a place that likes grandeur; it likes large gestures; it is not inhibited by flourish; it is a rhetorical society; it is a society of physical performance; it is a society of style”
You are not a great St.Lucian or a great Poet, or a Great Writer you are simply GREAT and your greatness will always remain intact. I asked Professor Fouron to present in class and he granted my request. Dr. Fouron said you were a great person and spoke about the time you came to Stony Brook a few years before I enrolled. Oh how I would have been honored to meet you.
Here is what I honored you with Derek:
As a child growing up in St.Lucia I remember the ease at which my consciousness flowed with the knowledge of our two Nobel Laureates Sir Arthur Lewis and Sir Derek Walcott. The Nobel Laureate who resonated with us was Sir Derek Walcott, to many people because he was alive. Derek Walcott received the Nobel Laureate prize for literature in 1992. Derek Walcott’s writing was as Caribbean as it was universal and as real as it was fantasy. Publishing his first poem at 14 the rest of Walcott’s career and work is history, it is the beauty in which Walcott addressed the Caribbean as a paradise worthy of praise while also addressing the harsh realities of post coloniality. By diving into the deep ends of the wells of imagination and reality Derek Walcott created work that has left me and the world in trances of self love, forgiveness, understanding , realization, becoming, accepting and simply being off springs of life.
On March 17 Derek Walcott took his last breath at the age of 87, the breath that you now breathe from the world that you now live. As I feel the spirit of a gentle giant I feel the need to share with you all one of Walcott’s poem that found me last summer as I journeyed to submerge myself in Walcott’s poetry. It goes
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
For those of you who may not have known of Walcott I urge you to get acquainted with his work. Whether it is inspirational quotes to start off your day. The need to become more that you are and to further your journey to your goals and your dreams, Walcott’s work is sure to reach you in a place that is longing to be reached and recognized by you. The passing of Derek Walcott has made me realized that stars never die they simply rise. Without knowing it we are all Derek Walcott and Derek Walcott was us all. I am sure that Professor Fouron can attest to the beauty of such a soul and through his works and contributions to knowledge we can see such beauty.
Some of us will leave Stony brook University and who knows where our paths will cross and lead? Be bold in your steps in life. Let go of things that do not make you shine like the star you are. It is my belief that when an elder dies a torch is passed on so that we may continue the walk.
As I conclude I would like to leave you with another quote by Walcott
“ Any serious attempt to do something worthwhile is ritualistic”
Signed With Peace,