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Monday, 8 December 2008

Walcott on Omeros

The BBC World Service is currently running a lengthy question-and-answer session with Derek Walcott in its World Book Club series.

Fielding questions from a studio audience and listeners around the world, Walcott insists that Omeros is not a reworking or transformation of Homer in a Caribbean setting, as so many commentators have assumed. He has some interesting technical points about the metrical and rhyming structure of the poem and the "ancestors" to whom these elements pay tribute. He talks about the problems of using Caribbean creole in poetry, and about his avoidance of metaphor ("metaphor is an accident, an evocation": the aim is to have a noun create the physicality of an object, not simply evoke it).

At the end of the session, Walcott remarks that, out of the whole history of poetic endeavour, only about 300-400 pages can be called real poetry. "Including some of yours?" enquires the presenter. To which Walcott replies, "Let me speak to my lawyer."

You can listen to the programme on demand for a week after its first broadcast, or download it as a podcast. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice and follow the links.

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