Walcott has been equally active as a
playwright, producing around thirty plays, and a successful academician,
teaching at various American universities. He employs the
conventions of the poet as well as the dramatist  to recreate in a real form of the experience
of living beings, not to preserve someone else’s concept of an ideal community
as Kenneth Ramchand asserts that “Walcott the poet is inseparable from Walcott
the dramatist” (203). However, many of his plays
also express his isolation due to the conflict between his western education
and the black folk traditions in which he had been nurtured from childhood. He
won some awards to his plays such as an Obie Award for his play Dream
on Monkey Mountain, in 1971. Generally, his plays treat aspects of
the West Indian experience, often dealing with the socio-political and
epistemological implications of post-colonialism and drawing upon various forms
such as the fable, allegory, folk, and morality play ( Balme and
Gorden  xxv).

    Walcott mostly wrote on the vivid landscape and culture of his
homeland.
St. Lucia which is a tiny island situated in the Caribbean archipelago about
halfway between French Martinique to the north and English St. Vincent to the
south. In this island and under its deep sun, he was infused with a deep
understanding of a rich culture decorated by folklore and history that
saturated the surrounding countryside where he grew up. St. Lucia with its lavish vegetation, blinding white beaches and
tangled multicultural heritage inspired his works that seemingly embraced every
poetic form, from the short lyric to the epic. From
his early life, he showed a remarkable painter’s eye for the details of his local
landscape with its beaches and clouds, its turtles, crabs, its tropical fish,
and the like. To
show the influence of St. Lucia on him, Walcott has said:

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 If you
go to a peak anywhere in St Lucia, you feel a simultaneous newness and sense of
timelessness at the same time – the presence of where you are. It is a primal
thing…What we can do as poets in terms of our honesty is simply to write
within the immediate perimeter of not more than twenty miles really (Hirsch 105).

 

    St. Lucia  is described as rich and fertile island,
densely covered in rainforest. His vision does not only focus on St. Lucia; he
also presents the dilemmas and the promise of the Caribbean as whole and rarely
views the Caribbean region from a single perspective. He realizes that these
islands face the same sociological issues that plague the Western world:
racism, ethnocentricity, stereotyping, the struggles of art, life and death. As
a matter of fact, there was long struggle between the English and French
colonization to put their control on St. Lucia. In fact, it changed hand
between them fourteen times until it was finally surrendered to the United
Kingdom in 1814. This justifies the diversity of cultures, languages and races.
Because of these changes, standard English Creole, and French Creole were all
spoken on this island. The diversity of race in the island came as a result of
the slave trade. Thus, the Afro-Caribbean majority of St. Lucia continued to
have a considerable impact on the island’s culture. Today, it is an independent
nation with English the official language. But the influence of the French
endures, reflected in the island’s fine Creole cuisine and lilting patois
spoken by the local population.

 

    The tropical landscape freed St.Lucians
from their feelings of homelessness despite that the cities seem to be obsessed
with the trade of the slave and with the European civilization.  So, their homelessness is cured by their
island’s wilderness. Naturally, the natural surroundings affect the major themes
of Derek Walcott, and he becomes “unable to detach the landscape from its
history of colonialism and all the attendant consequences of that history”
(Kamada 208). In his poetry, he directly “acknowledge the history of St. Lucia
and the Caribbean, the history of diaspora, of slavery, of the capitalist
commodification of the landscape” (Kamada 209). He uses the land as a cure from
the effect of imperialism.  Nature, for
Walcott, figures a magically Edenic future that can stand against history. Accordingly,
the landscape of Saint Lucia can be considered one of the major influences on
Walcott’s landscape poetry.