Derek Walcott: Star
I had this strange ritual when I was an undergraduate. Well, I had several, but the one I’m talking about was what I did early in the mornings, before I went to my job at the Monroe County Public Library.
In the morning, after I made a pot of coffee, I settled in to my mug and watched several videos on the TV/VCR in the living room. Sometimes, these were music videos. And sometimes, these were specific videos/poems from a collection called The United States of Poetry.
Looking back, this was likely my first encounter with poetry and multimedia. A few years later, when Flash would roll around, I’d encounter another version of it all. But these videos were my first introduction to the idea that poetry could be more than just words on a page (with apologies to the Beats and performance poetry).
One of the videos I remember watching a lot on repeat, was Derek Walcott reading his poem Star.
Many years later, I’d encounter the poet Yehuda Amichai, and feel a connection between Walcott’s poem and Amichai’s “Forgetting Someone.”
I was thinking about these videos tonight, and decided I wanted to share this bit of nostalgia. While a lot of the videos are scattered on YouTube, I don’t know that you can actually buy this collection anymore. I wonder how many VHS copies are floating around out there, and how soon until all those videos are converted and shared online.
A DVD version seems unrealistic/nonexistant. But it sure would be nice to find a copy again.