Monday, November 29, 2004

If the whole world is a poem, then the poet doesn't need subjects in the usual sense; he becomes like a sponge, soaking up poetry as he lives, sees, and travels. Increasingly in his recent work, Walcott has had less and less use for subjects and occasions; all of his poems have come to seem like parts of one long poem, which is his life itself. This tendency is brought to perfection in The Prodigal, where there is not so much a plot as a continuous provocation to verse: a conversation on a train, a hotel lobby, a Swiss Alp, a Caribbean beach, are all woven together in a single tapestry.... for readers who know and love the work of the man who deserves to be called the greatest living poet writing in English, The Prodigal will seem like a fitting culmination to a life's work.

-- Adam Kirsch, reviewing The Prodigal in Slate today.

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