I hate all that nonsense about not touching the colonialists' language. All that about it being corrupting and belonging to the master and making you Caliban. That thinking just denies you an outlet. You deny everything that is great from a language, whether it is Conrad or Shakespeare.

I think I would have been a totally different kind of writer if I'd gone to England. I might have developed a cynicism about my origins, a belittling of them, or an excessive nostalgia for them.

I don't feel like a celebrity. Poetry justifies celebrity. It's good to have respect for a poet.

My mother was a schoolteacher and very, very encouraging. She understood what it meant when I said I wanted to be a writer; both me and my brother wrote.

A noun is not a name you give something. It is something you watch becoming itself, and you have to have the patience to find out what it is.

The history of the world - by which, of course, we mean Europe - is a record of intertribal lacerations, of ethnic cleansings.

My mother taught Shakespeare and used to act.

The country that I was coming from, the island I was in, hadn't been written about, really. So I thought that I virtually had it all to myself, including the language that was spoken there, which was a French Creole, and a landscape that is not recorded, really, and the people.

I am not in England; I live in the Caribbean. So I am not hungover by prizes and awards because it does not happen very often.

If you talk about language in the Caribbean, you must relate it to history.

Where I come from, we sing poetry.

There's always a need at a critical time for poetry.

A culture, we all know, is made by its cities.

I was writing from a very, very early age. My father used to write. He died early, and my mother was a schoolteacher, so my academic background from childhood is a strong one, a good one.

I grew up in a place in which, if you learned poetry, you shouted it out. Boys would scream it out and perform it and do it and flourish it.

The discontent that lies in the human condition is not satisfied simply by material things.

The headmaster asked to read one of my poems at some celebration or other when I was about 10. When I look back, that is phenomenal encouragement.

The older I get, the more aware I am of the banality and indifference of a place like Trinidad to any development of the arts.

If music goes out of language, then you are in bad trouble.

You would get some fantastic syntactical phenomena. You would hear people talking in Barbados in the exact melody as a minor character in Shakespeare. Because here you have a thing that was not immured and preserved and mummified, but a voluble language, very active, very swift, very sharp.

I go back to St. Lucia, and the exhilaration I feel is not simply the exhilaration of homecoming and of nostalgia. It is almost an irritation of feeling: 'Well, you never got it right. Now you have another chance. Maybe you can try and look harder.'

Visual surprise is natural in the Caribbean; it comes with the landscape, and faced with its beauty, the sigh of History dissolves.

When I come to England, I don't claim England; I don't own it. I feel a great kinship because of the literature and the landscape. I have great affection for Edward Thomas and Philip Larkin, but there's still this distance: looking on at what I'm admiring, separate from what I am. And that's OK.

There is a restless identity in the New World. The New World needs an identity without guilt or blame.

The thing a writer has to avoid is being the 'voice' of his people and pretending he can speak for them.

Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole.

My delight in things is definitely Caribbean. It has to do with landscape and food. The fact that my language may have a metrical direction is because that's the shape of the language. I didn't make that shape.

A long time ago, I thought, as a writer in the Caribbean, 'I don't ever want to have to write 'It was great in Paris.'' Because I don't think, proportionately speaking, that one's experience in a city as opposed to, say, a village in St. Lucia, is superior to the other.

If you know what you are going to write when you're writing a poem, it's going to be average.

Our artists and writers should not be forced like soldiers to die on foreign soil or to return wounded and crawl famously into a hole.

I am only one-eighth the writer I might have been had I contained all the fragmented languages of Trinidad.

I'd rather have just one person who reads and feels my work deeply than hundreds of thousands who read it but don't really care about.

I knew very early what I wanted to do, and I considered myself lucky to know that's what I wanted, even in a place like Saint Lucia where there was no publishing house and no theatre.

I don't think there is any such thing as a black writer or a white writer. Ultimately, there is someone whom one reads.

For so long, the world has viewed West Indian culture as semiliterate and backward, which it is not. In my work, I have tried to give that world an exposure so the world can better understand it.

As much as I like teaching and students, it's a kind of rigor, a discipline, that's against my body.

My first book of poems was published privately in 1949. That was my mother. The book was '25 Poems.' It cost 200 dollars.

I come from a place that likes grandeur; it likes large gestures. It is not inhibited by flourish. It is a rhetorical society. It is a society of physical performance. It is a society of style.

I don't know what would have happened to me as a writer if I had gone to England and shaped my life out of England. Of course, I will never know, but I think I prefer what did happen.

I am grateful, you know. I have to be grateful in the sense that I feel that what I have is a gift.

Any serious attempt to try to do something worthwhile is ritualistic.

There's a ritualistic element to tragedy that everyone shares; there's something curiously glorious in terms of the most horrible kind of events that happen.

I don't feel I've arrived home until I get on the beach. All my life, the theater of the sea has been a very strong thing.

In painting, you don't have to go through a process of opinion; it speaks directly, and either it works, or it doesn't.

I can't tear up a poem and be a sound bite for you. Why is that so hard for anyone to understand?

There are some things people avoid saying in interviews because they sound pompous or sentimental or too mystical.

How does a poet teach himself or herself? I think chiefly by imitation, chiefly by practising it as a deliberate technical exercise often. Translation, imitation, those were my methods anyway.

The Chinese, the African, and the European - they are all there. So the division of the Caribbean experience into being emphatically only African is absurd.

Look at Allen Ginsberg. In poems like 'Kaddish' and 'Howl,' you can hear a cantor between the lines. It's fully alive, and I think that's what's missing in modern poetry. It's too dry and cerebral.