November Selection: Omeros (1990) by Derek Walcott

I chose Omeros not only because it is one of my favorite books, but also because it offers something for everyone in the club. Some will want to analyze the poetry, others colonialism and history, others the allusions to the classical literature, still others the author’s personal journey, etc. It is a long book. My first time I read it slowly out loud, purposefully as therapy for my vocal organs and it was a most enjoyable therapy! It took me a long time, but I grew to appreciate Walcott’s poetry. I don’t think it is possible to read the whole epic poem quickly. I suggest you allow time.

I imagine Walcott carrying a notebook and writing down one of the parts of a chapter as he is inspired by his surroundings or his musings. Then later assembling and lightly revising them into a whole. This helps me accept the varying points of view of the chapters – sometimes writing about his own personal experiences and sometimes absorbed in the experiences of Achille or others. In my reading about Walcott’s work style, it seems he is much more systematic and driven than I imagine. [See The Paris Review link below.] But it helps me to imagine his working style my way.

It also helps me analyze this very long and complex poem. It gives me permission to focus on one book or chapter or aspect at a time. I suggest you give yourselves that permission, at least for the purposes of our discussion in November.

There are many articles on the web about Omeros and Derek Walcott. I have found many of them helpful.



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5 Responses to November Selection: Omeros (1990) by Derek Walcott

  1. Van Perdue says:

    Thank you for proposing we read Omeros. I was relieved to hear that I was far from alone in having difficulty understanding the poem though I enjoyed immensely the time I spent reading it. The discourse at the meeting certainly added to my understanding; in fact, the discourse at the meeting made me wonder why I didn’t engage more fully in college English literature class. Omeros gets at least one more reading, perhaps two more. It is an amazing work.

  2. Van Perdue says:

    NYTimes: Derek Walcott, Poet and Nobel Laureate of the Caribbean, Dies at 87

    • David Gilmour says:

      Thank you for sending this out, Van. He was a favorite poet of mine since college days. –David

    • Ron Boothe says:

      His Omeros was such a personal and confessional as well as an epic poem that I felt like I knew him personally after reading it. So interesting how literature sometimes allows us to communicate personal feelings and vulnerabilities as well as facts and ideas across space and time even with individuals we have never met physically. I feel a sense of loss hearing of his death, but a sense of gratitude for having the privilege of engaging in his writings.

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