Treasure Island

Martin Carter

(1927-1997 / Guyana)

Biography of Martin Carter

Martin Carter was born in 1927 and received his secondary school education at Queen's College. During his early twenties he joined the turbulent political movement for national independence, quickly becoming a leading spokesman for the more radical forces of the movement. This prominence inevitably led to his arrest and imprisonment by the British colonial administration in 1953. At the time of his detention Carter had already launched his career as a poet, having contributed works to A. J. Seymour literary magazine, Kyk-over-al, and to Seymour 'Miniature Poet' series of poetry pamphlets (Hill of Fire Glows Red) . But it was during his imprisonment that he composed his most important collection, Poems of Resistance, which was eventually published in London, in 1954.


After his release from prison Carter remained active in the independence movement and in 1965 was a member of the colony's delegation to the Guyana Constitutional Conference in London, the final hurdle before the formal achievement of nationhood. Thereafter he served for two years (1966-67) as a member of Guyana's delegation to the United Nations. He has also served in the Guyanese government at home, most notably as minister of information and culture, finally leaving the government in 1971. Throughout this entire period he has maintained the dual roles of poet and activist, an appropriate choice in one whose most important writings have passionately advocated involvement and commitment. Consequently the years of political activity and government service also saw the appearance of the first half of his published output, followed by works ranging from the last of his outspoken collections, Poems of Shape and Motion (1955) , to the cryptic reticence of Poems of Affinity: 1978-1980 (1980) .

Martin Carter's Works:

The Hill of Fire Glows Red, Miniature Poets,1951.

The Kind Eagle, privately printed,1952.

The Hidden Man, privately printed,1952.

Poems of Resistance from British Guiana, Lawrence and Gishart,1954.

Poems of Shape and Motion, privately printed,1955.

Jail Me Quickly, privately printed,1963.

Poems of Succession, New Beacon,1977.

Poems of Affinity, Release,1980.

Selected Poems, Demerara,1989.

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Playing Militia

Even in that place of final exile
among tombs, and mechanical inscriptions,
each leaf is a different green,
flower of a different kind
of red and yellow; also each ripe fruit
tumult of a really different seed
there, in that place.

Outside in the traffic

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