Tribute to Martin Carter

Martin Carter is one of my favourite Caribbean poets; scratch that…he’s one of my favourite poets…and I would love to have been there for the recent tribute to him at Alice Yard in Trinidad. I was first introduced to this Guyanese poet during my time at the University of the West Indies (Mona, Jamaica). These were the words that spoke to me then, that speak to me, still – “I do not sleep to dream, but dream to change the world”. The idealism of youth, right? When I discovered the full text of that poem and more of his poetry, I knew it to be the defiance of the revolutionary spirit, the conviction of the righteous, poetry as part of the struggle

(from Looking at Your Hands)


I will not still my voice!

I have

too much to claim –

if you see me

looking at books

or coming to your house

or walking in the sun

know that I look for fire!

I have learnt

from books dear friend

of men dreaming and living

and hungering in a room without light

who could not die for death was far too poor

who did not sleep to dream, but dreamed to

change the world.

And so

if you see me

looking at your hands

listening when you speak

marching in your ranks

you must know

I do not sleep to dream, but dream to changee the world.”

Simply put, he’s one of the greats. Certainly in my book. Need to be convinced? Pick up this book Poems by Martin Carter (MacMillan Caribbean Writers)which spans his writing from the 1950s to the 1980s and see for yourself.


Filed under Caribbean Plus Lit News

4 responses to “Tribute to Martin Carter

  1. l

    Thanks and great info on tribute M Carter. Have not read much on him.
    Thanks again. Leyton

  2. I remember the feeling when I first read this and it is still the same now.

    I was introduced to him in 2008. His was the required reading for CAPE: Literatures in English.

    Martin Carter’s poetic flamboyance was that which caused me to see politics as what it is, goverance. Before that I saw people’s reaction to it as being synonymous with it. I hated people’s reaction and therefore I hated it. He taught me that you can write about anything and bring out substance and beauty with the words.

    His poetry was politics in elegance.

    I fell in love with his words then I fell for their meaning.

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