The Poetry Porch: Poets

About Richard Morris Dey

Dey graduated from Tabor Academy and, after two years at St. Lawrence University and three in the U.S. Army, from Harvard College in 1973. He worked as a commercial fisherman in the offshore lobster and swordfish fisheries off New England. As freelance journalist, he contributed to Yachting, Sail, Offshore, The Boston Globe, and Harvard Magazine, among other publications. In the 1990s, he was an instructor of maritime history and literature in the SEAmester program of Southhampton College, Long Island University. The father of two boys, and longtime resident on the south shore of Massachusetts, he now lives in Needham.

His book The Bequia Poems principally documents the experience of a contemporary American writer and sailor in the West Indies. In a tradition that began with the American poet Philip Freneau in 1775, Dey writes as an expatriate. The focus of the poems is Bequia (pronounced Beck-way), a distinct island in the Windward Islands and dependency of St. Vincent of the Grenadines. Some of these poems document the ethnography of this island, yet many are deeply personal and speak beyond a single island's domain.

The first poems were written while Dey, having worked on a yacht in the Caribbean in the summer of 1971, was a student at Harvard and published in The Harvard Advocate. Several of the other poems have been published in magazines, among them Poetry and Sail. Poems about Bequia have become an ongoing work, and three subsequent collections have been published with small presses. Dey studied writing poetry under James Dickey, Robert Fitzgerald, and Elizabeth Bishop.

While Dey continues to write about sailing in the Carribean, his travels also include Maine. Poems were published recently in Off the Coast and Caribbean Compass and Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies. In 2019 he published a long review in WoodenBoat of a memoir by by a fellow who built the last schooner built on Bequia, which happened to be co-owned by Bob Dylan.

Poems on The Poetry Porch:
Lines Written on Watch
Words for the Exxon Valdez
Cuttyhunk and At the WoodenBoat Show

Ranging the Maine Coast
The Bequia Poems
Frangipani Poems

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