Derek Walcott, 61, an English professor, has been honored for recasting the "Iliad" and "Odyssey" into an epic poem set in his native St. Lucia in the Caribbean.

The $18,500 W.H. Smith Literary Award, sponsored by a retail book chain, was disclosed in both The Times and The Daily Telegraph."Omeros," a poem of 2,500 stanzas, was published last year by Faber and Faber.

"I think what is being honored is not me but the simple life of St. Lucia," The Telegraph quoted Walcott as saying. "I've never really felt concerned about the reception of the poem.

"I don't mean that in an arrogant way, but because it's about St. Lucia, which is not a society that knows about literary awards as prestige. I almost feel guilty about accepting the prize."