Barbadian poet praises ‘Guanahani, My Love’ by Marion Bethel for magical realism, as author continues her book tour

"What is interesting about these poems is that they become entries into Caribbean magical realism." Kamau Brathwaite, New York University

"What is interesting about these poems is that they become entries into Caribbean magical realism." Kamau Brathwaite, New York University

The new edition of Guanahani, My Love by leading Bahamian poet Marion Bethel continues on tour with the author’s appearances.

In early March, Bethel was a guest author at the Global Caribbean Symposium in Miami, FL according to House of Nehesi (HNP), the book’s publisher

Bahamian history, culture, family, and Caribbean connections are explored critically and exposed creatively in the award-winning poetry collection, said HNP president Jacqueline Sample. Guanahani is the Amerindian name for The Bahamas.

And in a Caribbean country that is uniquely more sea than land, “the water is shamelessly beautiful,” writes Bethel in the poem “In the Shallow Seas.”

Guyanese critic Petamber Persaud wrote in the book’s introduction that, “This phrase ‘shamelessly beautiful’ alone can market Bethel’s work. But there are other awesome turns of phrase like ‘rocks of accident,’ ‘bubbles of bonanza burst,’ (and) ‘where minds recoil and reason stammers’.”

Bahamian Attorney now Poet: Marion Bethel

Bahamian Attorney now Poet: Marion Bethel

Launched in St. Martin in mid-2009, and then on to Canada by late 2009, Guanahani, My Love finally reached home as part of a double book launch in Nassau in January 2010, along with the author’s second 2009 title Bougainvillea Ringplay.

Bethel, a Cambridge-trained attorney in Nassau, is also a James Michener and Harvard University fellow. Her Guanahani poems are “entries into Caribbean magical realism” said Kamau Brathwaite, Barbadian-born author and literature professor at New York University.

To Persaud, “The influence of Bethel’s literary ancestors of the Caribbean…” is found in Guanahani, My Love. “ — With the contextual mention of Caliban, for instance, Bethel is extending the discourse of Saint-John Perse, Brathwaite, and Walcott.”

Contemporary themes such as foreign investment, tourism, junkanoo metaphors are featured in the handsomely designed book too. But according to Jacqueline Bishop, editor of the US literary journal Calabash, there are no lack of “Sensuous poems of honor and touching reverence.”

Guanahani, my Love is the metaphor for a place of more sea than land, of sugar and salt, the Caribbean, a home’,” said Yolanda Wood, director of Caribe Casa de las Américas, and readers everywhere are summoned to “share the profound mystery which blankets them all.”

Bethel’s writings have appeared in Lignum Vitae, The Massachusetts Review, Callaloo, and The Caribbean Writer; and anthologized in Junction, From The Shallow Seas, and Moving Beyond Boundaries. She has recited her poetry in the Caribbean, South America, North America and Europe.

In 1994, Bethel won the prestigious Casa de las Americas Prize for Guanahani, Mi Amor y otros poemas, which was published in Cuba as a bilingual edition by Casa that same year.

The Bahamian author Dr. Christian Campbell said that the new edition of Guanahani, My Love is indeed a “Taino rebirth.”

The second edition of this “first book of contemporary Bahamian poetry to receive critical acclaim, comes at a time of unprecedented excitement and productivity for Bahamian writers,” said Dr. Campbell. Guanahani, my Love is available at and bookstores.

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  1. Marion Bethel is a gem from and to The Bahamas. Recently awarded the Caricom 11th Triennial Award for Women, she continues to do her country proud through her literary works, her advocacy on behalf of the advancement of women and children and her documentary, “Womanish Ways, Freedom, Human Rights & Democracy in The Bahamas, The Women’s Suffrage Movement In The Bahamas 1948 – 1962, memorializes the struggle of Bahamian women for the right to vote. It serves as a tribute to the great warriors of the Movement and their supporters, as well as an incentive for Bahamian women to continue the journey. Thank you Marion!


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