Martin Carter’s poetry should be taught in schools


A letter to the editor of The Stabroek News from the Rev Gideon Cecil calls for the integration of the work of poet Guyanese poet Martin Carter in the nation’s curriculum:

As we commemorate another death anniversary of our late National Poet Martin Carter, I believe his poetry should be taught in our schools and private education institutions.

For the younger generation Martin Carter may be just another name listed among our national heroes in Guyana. Since literature died a long time ago in our poor system of education, it’s about time our educators re-introduced the poetry of Carter into the system as well as that of many other Guyanese writers.

On October 22, 1963, Carter said the following about the publishing of poetry in Guyana:

“Publishing poetry in this country is like lending books to corpses. Few read and those who do are not equipped either by curiosity or sensibility to understand what is confronting them.”

This prophetic statement came to pass in our nation because very few read poetry and many are not equipped with a background in literature to comprehend poetry. Many may ask the questions: Who was Martin Carter? What was his role in the history of Guyana? Many may ask why is his poetry important to this nation?

Martin Wylde Carter was the greatest poet Guyana has produced. He was one of the Caribbean’s greatest intellects and a distinguished literary personality, whose creative imagination left an indelible mark on the English-speaking Caribbean and the Western hemisphere. He ranked among literary exponents like Derek Walcott, V S Naipaul, Wilson Harris, Ian McDonald, A J Seymour and Kamau Braithwaite.

He was an important figure in the national independence movement and very active in liberating Guyana from British colonialism.

He lived to 70 years, devoting his life to his country and literary pursuits that will remain in the annals of Guyana and the wider Caribbean. His literary works are studied in Caribbean and British universities and those in the wider world. Dr Gemma Robinson from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England wrote her PhD dissertation on Carter.

Carter’s poems can be compared to those of Tagore, T S Eliot, Ezra Pound, W H Auden and W B Yeats. He was a great teacher of mankind and an ardent seeker of truth. His poems are rich in symbolism, philosophy, theology and contain some very profound and complex imagery.

His political poems of resistance registered protest against British colonialism and they speak out against the stark poverty, injustice, dehumanization and degradation of human existence among the masses.

We can see his autobiography in most of the poems he has written because he writes from personal experience not only from the creative imagination. Our late National Poet Martin Carter, who died on December 13, 1997, was without question one of the major poets of the English language in our time.

For the original report go to

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s