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Judge Spotlight: Nicolette Bethel

By Shivanee Ramlochan, 2012 Bocas Lit fest blogger

PictureWelcome, Bocas enthusiasts, to our first judge spotlight on a poet. Poetry is tricky, isn’t it? I think most poets would classify the art and practice of being a poet, of writing poems (with or without prospect of pay) as hazardous, uncertain, and necessary. Here is how the writer, academic and anthropologist Nicolette Bethel describes herself in the ‘About’ section of her frequently-updated and widely-read blog:

“When I was a child and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would invariably answer “A writer”. And here I am, all grown up, and that’s what I’ve become.”
(The full story of how this self-description has emerged is well worth reading, and is available here.)If the most reliable rule of thumb for parsing the motivations, the rich, interior language of a poet, is to explore her work as fully as possible, then here are some of Nicolette Bethel’s poems:

♦ “Easter Sunday: Remembrance” (published in sx salon)
♦ “The Carpenter Seals Lily’s Widowhood (1943)” (published in The Caribbean Review of Books)
♦ “The Widow Addresses Her Late Husband” (published in Avatar Review)
♦ “The Scotsman Gives Lily Her Name” (published in Calabash: A Journal of Caribbean Arts and Letters)

Perhaps, when you have read them, you will seek out more of Bethel’s writing, because you found her language compelling, as I did. If you thought the imageries were potent, the characters both starkly and surreally realized, and if you’re left with the impression that each poem could encapsulate a lifetime in a handful of smarting, successful lines — well, then, we’re in the same literary boat. In addition to writing her own poems, Bethel is editor-in-chief of the online literary journal, tongues of the ocean, which features writing from the Caribbean and abroad, and publishes thrice annually. It should be read by anyone with a pulse and an interest in good writing from these islands, and other places, too.

Further Reading from Bethel (Essays/Links of Interest):
♦ Essay: “Junkanoo in the Bahamas: A Tale of Identity”
♦ Review of the work of Christian Campbell, Kei Miller and Ishion Hutchinson (published in The Caribbean Review of Books)
♦ Short Fiction: “Lucifer Rex” (published in The Paumanok Review)

Author photo copyrighted, here.