This remarkable collection, which won the 1986 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry, includes most of the poems from each of Derek Walcott's seven prior books of verse and all of his long autobiographical poem, "Another Life." The 1992 Nobel Laureate in Literature, Walcott has been producingfor several decadesa poetry with all the beauty, wisdom, directness, and narrative force of our classic myths and fairy tales, and in this hefty volume readers will find a full record of his important endeavor. "Walcott's virutes as a poet are extraordinary," James Dickey wrote in The New York Times Book Review. "He could turn his attention on anything at all and make it live with a reality beyond its own; through his fearless language it becomes not only its acquired life, but the real one, the one that lasts . . . Walcott is spontaneous, headlong, and inventive beyond the limits of most other poets now writing."
Walcott has written nine books of poetry, beginning with 25 Poems (printed in St. Lucia in 1948) and ending with Midsummer ( LJ 1/84). In Collected Poems , Walcott offers us generous selections from all his books, especially Sea Grapes ( LJ 8/76), and he adds the entire text of Another Life (1974), his autobiography in verse and a tribute to the formative influences of the island of St. Lucia. Walcott is a superb stylist who leaves his signature in complex chains of imagery: ``The rain falls like knives/ on the kitchen floor./ The sky's heavy drawer was pulled out too suddenly.'' Collected Poems will certainly rank as one of the important poetry titles of 1986, and no poetry collection will be complete without it. Strongly recommended. Daniel L. Guillory, English Dept., Millikin Univ., Decatur, Ill.