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From Barnes & NobleAwe of the Ordinary: A Poet Sings of Paint
The power of paint -- color, texture, and brushstroke -- is depicted with absolute awe in Nobel Prize-winner Derek Walcott's masterful book-length poem Tiepolo's Hound. Walcott weaves together the biography of painter Camille Pissarro, often referred to as the father of Impressionism, with his own life story as a young poet and painter. Pissarro, like Walcott, was born in the Caribbean islands. As a young man, Pissarro left for Paris, where he influenced Cézanne and mentored many painters. Walcott, who has lived around the world, now splits his time between his native St. Lucia and the United States.
This is a poem about falling in love with art, and numerous gods of painting, such as Tiepolo, Veronese, and Cézanne, are referred to. But that's just the beginning. Colonialism, the Dreyfus affair, and the pain of exile keep popping up, giving the poem a broader historical context. Wide range is a typical feature for Walcott, an acclaimed playwright, director, and teacher who believes poets should try their hand at other projects besides just verse. His individual poems span continents and eras, and his trademark lush lines are anything but minimal.
Here, the interlocked couplets maintained throughout the poem add an extra depth to the lines and provide an overarching structure. In addition, the 25 watercolors reproduced here show Walcott's work as a committed painter and serve as a testament to his view of the importance, for poets, of stretching beyond strict verse.