These poems are finely crafted works that reveal a maturity of voice and a distinctive use of language that delves into the fruitful place of intersection between her Bahamian dialect and the English that she plies as a lawyer. Marion Bethel’s poems reveal a mastery of syntax that one finds in only the most sophisticated poets. Her poems eschew all but the most utilitarian of punctuation marks, (question marks, apostrophes, and inverted commas), but commas, periods, colons, dashes are all ignored, thus demanding everything of rhythm and syntax. The achievement of these poems is that they read with such control of sound and breath that such markers seem completely superfluous in her hands. Her poems are rooted in the landscape of the Bahamas, and so we will find the flora, we will find the sea, we will find the food, we will find the dialect, and yet we are never for a moment allowed to imagine this place as a cliché, as a tourist location. Instead, Bethel’s sharp sense of detail, her unsettling truth-telling, and the risks she takes with narratives about love and hurt in all kinds of relationships open for us an emotional intelligence that is arresting. History is constantly present for her, and it is hard to walk away from her poems without feeling as if you have finally met her homeland.
These poems are sensual in the most literal sense - the poems are about the senses, the smell of vanilla and sex, the sound of waves - radio, voices, sea; the taste of crab soup; the texture of hurricane wind, and the chaos of colors bombarding the eye. Bahamian poetry is being defined in the work of Marion Bethel and in Bougainvillea Ringplay she is doing so with grace.
Marion Bethel was born in the Bahamas where she currently lives and works.