Voices along the Road is a collection of poems that explores the immigrant experience, detailing three worlds that forge a Caribbean-American voice. All three sections of the manuscript examine an identity that comes directly, almost solely, from her surroundings. In the tradition of Louise Bennett, the use of dialect aside, Section I attempts to comprehend a narrow Caribbean existence by scrutinizing a life that is tied to nature, family, and country. Section II sees the world slightly more broadly, but there the speaker is also acutely aware of her identity and the complexity in bridging the two worlds she now finds herself simultaneously occupying, one immediate, the other existing only through reflection. Section III nearly abandons the collection’s Caribbean roots and gives voice to a Floridian experience that in many ways echoes some of the disquiet in the earlier poems. Overall, whether detailing a morning in Jamaica or an afternoon in Miramar, the poems are made of imagery and themes keenly observed and lyrically interpreted.
Noticeable is the fact that many of the poems are written about small creatures—ants, an iguana, dragonflies, and other small players in the natural world. Whether it is the rendering of lush Caribbean fields or the crackling metropolis of South Florida, the time and effort paid to the pulsings around her underscore the determination of the speaker to make real and ardent sense of landscape. Form too plays an important role in this collection. Certain poems are sonnet-inspired and adhere loosely to the form’s strict requirements by playing with meter and rhythm and using off rhymes. One even exchanges end rhymes for anagrams. A villanelle also makes an appearance, but the most apparent form is the prose poem. It emerges as a key element in understanding this collection. Because of the history of Caribbean culture, the art of storytelling is an ingrained traditional method of keeping the culture alive; it carries with it the facts and perceptions of the observer and consequent storyteller. These prose pieces are no different from their verse counterparts as they seek to tell the story of a person, a family, a people, and maybe of times and practices that no longer exist.
It is the hope of the poet that, individually, the poems will find homes, and, collectively, they will join with other Caribbean, Caribbean-American, and American voices along the road.