The Quest for Caribbean Identities: Postcolonial Conflicts and Cross-Cultural Fertilization in Derek Walcott’s Poetry

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Catherine M Douillet

Abstract

ABSTRACT: This paper investigates how the political merges with the literary in Derek Walcott’s poetry, using the poems “A Latin Primer” and “The Light of the World” as primary examples. In these two poems, Walcott explores the colonial wounds of the Caribbean region and the various consequences of colonialism for the forging of Caribbean’s contemporary identities. He proposes a model of Caribbeanness that values racial multiplicity and cross-dialogues between cultures, including, perhaps problematically, the European cultural tradition, as fertilizing. For Walcott, poetic creativity serves to truly unify and find points of connections in a disjointed postcolonial world. This paper examines the implications of Walcott’s stances on postcolonial identity politics and compares Walcott to several French Caribbean authors.

RÉSUMÉ: Cet article explore comment la polique et la littérature fusionnent dans la poésie du Prix Nobel de Littérature Derek Walcott, utilisant les poèmes “A Latin Primer” et “The Light of the World” comme exemples principaux. Dans ces deux poèmes, Walcott analyse les blessures coloniales encourues par les Antilles et les différentes conséquences du colonialisme pour la création des identités antillaises contemporaines. Il propose un modèle d’antillanité qui célèbre la multiplicité raciale et les dialogues fertilisateurs entre les cultures, y compris la culture européenne, donnant peut-être ainsi matière à controverse. Pour Walcott, la créativité poétique sert à unifier et connecter un monde postcolonial disjoint. Cet article examine les différentes implications des positions de Walcott concernant les politiques d’identités postcoloniales et compare Walcott à certains auteurs des Antilles francophones.

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How to Cite
Douillet, C. M. (2010). The Quest for Caribbean Identities: Postcolonial Conflicts and Cross-Cultural Fertilization in Derek Walcott’s Poetry. AmeriQuests, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.15695/amqst.v7i1.169
Author Biography

Catherine M Douillet, University of Dubuque

Catherine Douillet has been spending her life between the United States, France, India, and Trinidad for the past fifteen years. She is originally from Lyon, France, where she grew up and obtained a B.A. in French literature from University of Lyon. She moved to the U.S in 1994 and obtained an M.A. in anthropology from Portland State University and a Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Iowa. While her M.A. thesis focused on issues of gender and power in a small Afro-American church in Portland, Oregon, her Ph.D. dissertation investigated ethnic relations and nationalism in Trinidad, West Indies, where she lived for two years. Catherine Douillet has taught at several schools and universities, including Loras College and Clarke College in Dubuque where she taught anthropology and literature courses, and the Institute of International Relations in Paris. She now teaches sociology at the University of Dubuque and her current research interest focuses on postcolonial Caribbean literature and the poetry of Derek Walcott.