The Guyanese poet Martin Carter (1927-97) was one of the foremost Caribbean writers of the 20th century. Twice imprisoned by the colonial government of British Guiana during the Emergency in the 1950s, he became a minister in Guyana’s first independent government during the 60s, representing his country at the United Nations, but resigned in disillusionment after three years to live ‘simply as a poet, remaining with the people’. He was one of the first Caribbean poets to write about slavery, Amerindian history and Indian Indentureship in relation to contemporary concerns. Wise, angry and hopeful, Carter’s poetry voices a life lived in times of public and private crisis.
Martin Carter’s poetry was first published in Britain in 1954 by the leftwing publishing house Lawrence & Wishart when publication in colonial British Guiana wasn’t possible, and later by New Beacon Books. He appeared in E.A. Markham’s seminal anthology Hinterland (Bloodaxe, 1989) as one of the father figures of modern Caribbean poetry. Two editions of Selected Poems by Martin Carter followed, one in Guyana in 1997 and another in Britain by Peepal Tree in 1999. Stewart Brown’s critical anthology All Are Involved: The Art of Martin Carter also appeared from Peepal Tree in 1999. The first comprehensive edition of his work was University of Hunger: Collected Poems & Selected Prose, edited by Gemma Robinson (Bloodaxe Books, 2006).
Books by Martin Carter