As a Trinidadian whose writing career has been spent in the UK, he is unquestionably a pioneer of the diasporic consciousness. In this respect his work has sought to uncover what is essential in the Caribbean cultural heritage, wherever Caribbean people might be, and from the time of his first collection, The Expatriate (1969) he has explored the experience of separation and the establishment of new connections.
Here, though not ignoring the external contexts of racism and the marginalisation of immigrant communities, his work has focused on the inner qualities of that experience, speaking of those deeper psychic dislocations. As the Jamaican-born English poet Edward Lucie-Smith wrote: ‘The "climate of the heart", which West Indians know of but cannot always communicate, speaks clearly and delicately in his work.’
The range of Faustin Charles’ poetry is wide. It has been very consciously modernist, not frightened of complexity or of embarking on journeys of discovery in ways that relate him to the radical fictions of Wilson Harris and Latin American magical realism. The connection between inner consciousness and landscape is a signal element in his writing. In this respect his work, originally published in the collections, Crab Track and Days and Nights in the Magic Forest is demanding but highly rewarding. But he has also written many eloquent and immediately accessible poems that celebrate manifold aspects of Caribbean culture: cricket, music, folklore and the fauna and flora of the region. Such poems have been seized on by any number of anthologists of Caribbean writing.
In the new poems from Children of the Morning there is both a focus on the lives of the young, and a Blakean concern with the quality and integrity of childhood experience that clearly grows from his work as a storyteller with children. These are both songs of innocence and experience, of what ought to be, and, as in ‘Stephen’s Song’, of a young life snuffed out by racism.
Faustin Charles was born in Trinidad but has lived and published in London for most of his adult life. He is a poet, story-teller and very successful writer for children.