Derek Walcott, a poet, a playwright, and the founder of BU’s Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, has already won many of the highest honors awarded to contemporary artists — the Queen’s Medal for Poetry, a genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation, and in 1992, a Nobel Prize for Literature. This fall, he adds another accolade, joining novelists Toni Morrison, John Updike, Salman Rushdie, Tom Wolfe, and Joyce Carol Oates as a Janet Weis Fellow in Contemporary Letters at Bucknell University.
Bucknell’s president, Brian C. Mitchell, says his community is delighted to include Walcott among its fellows, who are recognized as representing the “highest level of achievement” in writing fiction, nonfiction, or biography.
“As a poet and playwright, [Walcott] does honor to the great tradition of Bucknell’s writing community,” Mitchell says. “We are proud to honor him.”
The fellowship comes after an eventful year for Walcott (Hon.’93), who celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Playwrights’ Theatre earlier this year. The BPT, founded in collaboration with Boston University’s Creative Writing Program, was designed to bridge the gap between text and performance by giving actors a role in refining a writer’s script. Many alumni of the program, now run by artistic director Kate Snodgrass (GRS’90), have had great success. Ronan Noone (GRS’01), whose BPT production of The Lepers of Baile Baste won the National Student Playwriting Award at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in 2002, has won multiple awards from the Independent Reviewers of New England and will have two plays performed by BU’s Huntington Theatre Company this fall. Melinda Lopez (GRS’00) won the Kennedy Center award for Most Promising New Voice in the American Theatre in 1999, and her play Sonia Flew was produced by the Huntington in 2004.
Walcott will receive the award from Bucknell and give a talk on Tuesday, October 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the university’s Weis Center for the Performing Arts. The talk is free and open to the public.
Jessica Ullian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.