'The Fortunate Traveller' in Transit: On a Walcott Manuscript and the Vicissitudes of North and South
In the early months of 1980, during revision of a collection that was at that time to be called North and South, Derek Walcott typed a 12 page poem. This poem, I argue, would form the kernel of one that would eventually lend its name — “The Fortunate Traveller” — to the renamed title of the whole collection. Far from the suggestive and sparse, if undeniably political, poem that would be published in that 1981 volume, this early draft reads like a manifesto: both of poetics and of politics. This article takes that unpublished manuscript as a point of departure for thinking through issues of vernacular language and its eschewal, the question of centre and periphery, and Walcott’s avoidance of what would come to be known as “South–South” oriented postcolonial criticism. The article ultimately argues that it is through attention to neoliberalism that Walcott produces a novel approach to these questions of language and space.