Bequia Poems

“This is a readable collection. The poems are well-crafted and sensitive. Dey’s voice—literate but not obscure—speaks to us with an assurance and maturity about a special place.”        

                 —The Caribbean Writer

It was H. M. Tomlinson, the British travel writer and novelist, who wrote in Gifts of Fortune “We are on more than one voyage at a time” and that is really the underlying argument of Richard Dey’s Bequia Poems, a work spanning some thirty-five years. In that time Dey had passed from youth through middle-age even as he had traveled among the developing Windward Islands, and the poems reflect both.

They show Dey himself developing, from being a deckhand on a yacht, cruising among the islands, to moving ashore on one island, Bequia.  The progress of the poems reflects his changing perspective, a developing awareness of the surroundings and of himself in them. Organized in a migratory pattern of arrival, residence, and departure-only-to-return, the poems evolve from a passing sequence to something larger, a vessel for a more comprehensive view that bridges different cultures.

At the same time, Dey never lost his interest in boats and the people, local and foreign, who sail in them. Other American poets have gone abroad and written as expatriates but Dey alone has brought to boats, working and recreational, in twentieth-century poetry associations historical and literary. It is this interest in, and knowledge of, boats that partly distinguishes these poems—and what are boats but vehicles of transport?

The island economies have changed from agriculture to tourism, wooden schooners locally built to steamers brought out from the Baltic. And Dey, witnessing this change, has confronted himself in his role as poet, at once fascinated by what he initially found, an island accessible only by boat and rich in maritime tradition, and conflicted by what has evolved, an island whose traditions and landscape have given way to modernization.

Almost unknown before Dey sailed there, Bequia is now on the literary map.


© Richard Dey 2013