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.
Gemma Robinson’s helpfully annotated edition is the first Collected Poems of Martin Carter. The selected prose includes key essays on race, colonialism, political action and the role of the poet in a postcolonial society.
'The work in University of Hunger ranges from lyrics to arguments to riddles. Carter’s poetry, known by heart by his fellow Guyanese, deserves to live deep in global memory. Responsive to the white dust and red flowers of his homeland, for Carter the political is personal. Jailed for his part in the independence struggle, he foxed surveillance photographers by displaying poems on his home. Whether in tenderness for ‘green, green love’ or in furious search of a ‘comrade stargazer’, he desires a freedom that would write a "happier alphabet".' – Vahni Capildeo, Reader's Digest
‘A major contribution to Guyanese scholarship. This sets the standard for editions of Caribbean poetry’ – David Dabydeen
‘Carter has a stature in the collective consciousness of Guyana that is quite unique among writers in the English-speaking Caribbean…he will remain one of the greatest writers of that period…Carter will stand in the very first ranks of the writers of the Americas’ – George Lamming
‘Martin Carter spans an enormous arc of experience from exuberant public statement to betrayed introspection’ – E.A. Markham
‘His impulse was always lyrical, he was a great reciter, he had a great voice, he had a great joy in the sound of the poem…the example of his work was phenomenal…West Indian literature even in English is totally underestimated, totally. The literature is astonishing, the quality is astonishingly high. And Martin’s position in all this is special’ – Derek Walcott