writers on writers: Marion Bethel

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Marion Bethel is perhaps The Bahamas’ most distinguished poet. We hope her peers will forgive us for saying this, but the fact remains: Marion is the winner of the coveted Casa de las Americas prize (more here) for her very first volume of poetry, Guanahani My Love, and this summer she will see the publication of a second collection of poetry from Peepal Tree Press. It is our pleasure, therefore, to feature Marion Bethel as tongues of the ocean‘s first Writer on Writers.

We interviewed Marion about why she writes, her poetic influences, the role of the poet, the place of the written word, and her dreams for the future. These were the questions:

  • Why do you write?
  • Who are your poetic influences?
  • Chinua Achebe famously wrote that “art for art’s sake is just another piece of deodorized dog shit.” What is the role of the poet in society?
  • Some people believe that poetry is an outdated art form, especially poetry written for the page, which has been supplanted by the spoken word. What is your view on this position?
  • What do you dream for tomorrow?


Marion Bethel was born and lives in Nassau, The Bahamas.  She read law at Cambridge University, Cambridge, England and has worked as an attorney since 1986.
Her writing includes poetry, short stories and essays.  Her work has appeared in a number of publications in the region and beyond.  She has been a guest writer at several international literary events. She was awarded a James Michener Fellowship by the Caribbean Writers Summer Institute in the Department of English of the University of Miami, Florida in July 1991 and the Casa de las Americas Prize for a volume of poetry called Guanahani, My Love which was published in a bilingual edition (Spanish/English) in 1995.
Guanahani, My Love, was re-published in March 2009 by House of Nehesi Publishers St. Martin, Caribbean.  Her new poetry collection, Bougainvillea Ringplay, will be published in August 2009 by Peepal Tree Press, Leeds, England.  She is now working on a third manuscript of poetry and a novel.
Click here for fuller biographical details.