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Collected Poems: Ian McDonald

One of the Caribbean's best loved poets, Ian McDonald's illustrious writing career began in the 1950s with the publication in journals such as New World and Bim. His first collection appeared in cyclostyled form in Georgetown sometime in the early 1970s. This Collected Poems features the very best of his published work, and a good number of brand new poems, offering readers a long-overdue opportunity to appreciate and enjoy the breadth and depth of his work.


Ian McDonald
Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Pan Caribbean
Date published
12 Apr 2018

This collected poems, prepared in honour of Ian McDonald’s 85th year, shows just why he has been one of the Caribbean’s best loved poets. Hailed as the ultimate Caribbean man, his life’s work, has included many critically acclaimed individual collections, the popular and televised novel, The Hummingbird Tree, several decades of a weekly Guyanese newspaper column that gave heart to the nation through bad times and better ones, revival of the country’s premier literary journal, Kyk over Al, support for myriad writers, dedicated administrative service to the region’s sugar industry, and manifold acts of unrecorded kindness in ministering to the suffering in Georgetown’s hospital wards. Sustained by family and friends, warmly recorded in poems celebrating the rewards of domesticity, McDonald acknowledges a life that has been blessed in many respects, but his poems avoid any sense of comfortable self-satisfaction, written as they are with an acutely sensitive and self-reflexive awareness of inherited privilege as a white man in the Caribbean. With jewelled gifts for both description and narration, few Caribbean poets have portrayed more splendidly the natural beauties of the region or written more empathetically of the hidden gifts of character and achievement amongst the unremarked lives of the nation’s poorest and least acknowledged. His work ranges in focus on the smallest and nearest things – an ants’ nest, a flower – to humble speculations about human purpose in the context of the infinite. His poetry has taught generations of readers to see the world around them with fresh eyes.

From the earliest work published in BIM in 1960, to a recent outpouring of poems that began in his eightieth year, this volume brings together these new poems with poems first published in Selected Poems (1975), Mercy Ward (1988), Essequibo (1992), Jaffo the Calypsonian (1994) Between Silence and Silence (2003), The Comfort of All Things (2012) and River Dancer (2016).

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Ian McDonald

Ian McDonald was born in Trinidad in 1933. After attending school in Port of Spain he went to university in Cambridge to read History. He was a gifted tennis player and captained both the Cambridge and the West Indies Davis cup team. He first went to Guyana in 1955 and has lived there ever since.

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