Derek Walcott, The Journeyman Years, Volume 1: Culture, Society, Literature, and Art: Occasional Prose 1957-1974
During the same period in which Derek Walcott was pouring immense physical, emotional, and logistical resources into the foundation of a viable first-rate West Indian theatre company and continuing to write his inimitable poetry, he was also busy writing newspaper reviews, chiefly for the Trinidad Guardian. His prodigious reviewing activity extended far beyond those areas with which one might most readily associate his interests and convictions. As Gordon Rohlehr once presciently observed, If one wants to see a quotidian workaday Walcott, one should go back to [his] well over five hundred articles, essays and reviews on painting, cinema, calypso, carnival, drama and literature, articles which reveal a rich, various, witty and scrupulous intelligence in which generous humour counterpoints acerbity. These articles capture the vitality of Caribbean culture and shed additional light on the aesthetic preoccupations expressed in Walcott's essays published in journals. The editors have examined the corpus of Walcott's journalistic activity from its beginnings in 1950 to its peak in the early 1970s, and have made a generous selection of material from the Guardian, along with occasional pieces from such sources as Public Opinion (Kingston) and The Voice of St. Lucia (Castries). The articles in Volume 1 are organized as follows: Caribbean society, culture, and the arts generally; literature and society; periodicals; anglophone poetry, prose fiction, and non-fiction; African and other literatures; and the visual arts (Caribbean and beyond). The volume closes with a selection of Walcott's mis-cellaneous satirical essays. The volume editor Gordon Collier has written a searching introductory essay on a central theme - here, a critical, comparative analysis of Walcott's development as journalist against the historical background of press activity in the Caribbean, coupled with an illustrative discussion (drawing on Walcott's newspaper articles) of his attitudes towards prose fiction and poetry.