Doug Beardsley captures the spirit of place and the essence of its people while on an extensive sailing trip through Caribbean, Mexican and Pacific waters. Travelling through various Pacific Ocean nations, Beardsley's contemplative poems remind us how people's lives in these exotic environments and remarkable cultures connect with our own. Simulating the rhythms and patterns of oral speech Swimming with Turtles; Spirit of Place reads with a colloquial and experiential cadence expressing travel experiences as narratives.
The direct and spontaneous language of the poems make us forget the kind of aesthetic exercises and experiments that we often associate with poetry and place Beardsley's work as more of an integral dialogue that he is sharing with the reader. This relaxed contemporary style leaves no doubt that he is celebrating ordinary people in an easy-to-understand language that captures extraordinary moments.
"Once again, Doug Beardsley is ‘going down into history’. In the tradition of Stevenson and Melville, he sails the waters of the South Pacific and the Caribbean in search of ‘spirit of place'. Beardsley looks beyond the invasion of ‘mahogany tourists' and finds he cannot help ‘thinking of slavery' and ‘sea dragons'. He meditates on those who have come before; from Cortez and Cook to Gauguin and Neruda. In Swimming With Turtles; Spirit of Place history and myth fuse with the present in fine poems like ‘Dark Hummingbird's Dance' and the final ‘Sacrificial Presence'.
— David Day