Winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature, the prolific Walcott has also won the Queen's Medal for Poetry, the Guinness Award for Poetry, and a Royal Society of Literature Award, among many other honors. He was the recipient of a five-year fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation and is an Honorary Member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. A native of St. Lucia, West Indies, he continues to make his home there, and teaches at Boston University during the academic year. He is the founder of the Trinidad Theater Workshop. The New York Shakespeare Festival and the Negro Ensemble Company have produced his plays, one of which won an Obie Award. He has published nearly 20 books of poetry and co-authored, with Joseph Brodsky and Seamus Heaney, a collection of essays honoring Robert Frost. The present volume, a book-length narrative poem composed entirely of couplets, follows the interwoven journeys of Walcott himself and fellow Caribbean Camille Pissaro, an artist who left the islands in the latter half of the 19th century to study painting in France. Their voyages are studies in impressionism, when `all was paint and the light in paint.` Even when he has set aside the artist's brush and taken up the poet's pen, Walcott can `still smell linseed oil in the wild views of villages.` And in presenting the biographical details of Pissaro's life, he gives us their essence, not merely the `walled facts.`
Walcott has the ability to reconcile European and island influences in a way that is enriching to both cultures. An artist himself, his painterly techniques are brought to bear in this masterful, lavish, and detailed work.