Derek Walcott vs VS Naipaul

I’d forgotten about this – but I saw Omeros by Derek Walcott sitting (unfinished) on my shelf, and I remembered reading this poetic assault on Naipaul by Walcott

From ‘The Mongoose’

I have been bitten, I must avoid infection
Or else I’ll be as dead as Naipaul’s fiction
Read his last novels, you’ll see just
what I mean
A lethargy, approaching the obscene
The model is more ho-hum than Dickens
The essays have more bite
They scatter chickens like critics, but
each stabbing phrase is poison
Since he has made that snaring style
a prison
The plots are forced, the prose
sedate and silly
The anti-hero is a prick named Willie
Who lacks the conflict of a Waugh or Lawrence
And whines with his creator’s

These two have a long-lasting, well-documented feud (I’m on Walcott’s side) that I’m not going to recount, but I love the idea of two seventy-something Nobel prize winners engaging in a literary smackdown…this poem is a fantastic example of using your intelligence to fight your fight. Walcott definitely gets his point across…I seem to remember being left speechless by the fact that it ended with the line ‘He doesn’t like black men but he loves black cunt.’ I wish I could find the full version of this poem to post – the rest is just as brilliant, but I’m not going to transcribe it – you can listen to it here


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