The news on Friday that Derek Walcott had died left me numb for a while. Quite a while. It’s not that we knew each other well, most of our interaction was in passing, brief interludes at various events over the years, but what little communication there was left lasting impressions on me.
Then there were the several e-mails exchanged over the years that I now wish I had not deleted when cleaning up the inbox. Among these were his opinions on pieces I’d written, mainly theatre reviews. He would write that he appreciated my view while expressing his and then offering counsel on being more open minded on how I could have said it better.
Walcott made an impression on me long before I entered the media as I began reading him as a child. My Standard Four teacher, Mr Mannette, had built an expansive and impressive class library that included several of his poetry collections. Imagine us little boys reading and discussing Walcott in Standard Four. Guess that’s why 11 of us from that year passed for St Mary’s College. Thank you for your role in that Derek Walcott.