A Brief Biography:
Bridget Campion is a member of the Cobourg Poetry Workshop,
born and raised in Niagara, went to school in Toronto and stayed for
20 years - along the way was married, had four children, earned a
PhD, worked in hospitals as a clinical ethicist, and taught at the
University of Toronto and Toronto School of Theology.
with Bridget Campion
brought you to Cobourg?
I was looking for more space and a more manageable way of life.
That was fifteen years ago - a blink of the eye in Cobourg time.
Now, I'm no longer married, have two children in university, two
at home, and I continue to do bioethics and I teach ethics to nursing
students at Trent University in Peterborough. You, know ... life
you to poetry?
I was in high school. I was also writing novels and plays, as well
as learning to play the guitar - a heady time when anything seemed
possible. In university I wrote columns and reviews for the college
newspaper (eventually becoming editor-in-chief) as well as fiction
for the college literary magazine - but very little poetry. As an
adult and a wife, I gradually lost my voice, but I continued writing
because something inside of me needed to. But my writing was covert,
not real. It didn't count. More than anything, my return to poetry
has been a way for me to regain my voice. It's the most truthful
form of writing that I can think of - which is probably why it fell
by the wayside for such a long time and why it is so important for
it sheds light on the familiar - Queen Anne's lace by the roadside,
a grandfather dying, the lights of Cobourg harbour. I tend to be
Aristotelian rather than a Platonist (of course, we can ask how
much of a Platonist was Plato?) And ground my life in experience
rather than ideas. I work with things I see or come across and my
hope is that, through my poetry, I can bring the reader/listener
into the experience.
How do your
poetry takes time. I don't have the skill or confidence to introduce
a poem with, "Here's a little something I wrote on the way
over here tonight ..." I start with an image, a phrase, an
experience, and begin jotting down words. I actually get a sketch
pad out so that I'll have lots of room. And then I get down to work.
If I can get an hour at a time to do this, I'm happy. But a poem
isn't simply about getting an experience across. I think about the
words I am using, the cadence. I read it aloud as I go along, going
through many, many drafts over the course of days or weeks or months.
Then, when it is ready, I'll leave it, work on another poem, occasionally
sneaking a look at it from time to time, just to see. And then,
at some point, it will be finished.
Oh, nature, without a doubt, is my biggest inspiration. Walking
through the woods, along the lakeshore, through the hills - just
letting nature speak. It's wonderful. And the experience of family
is also an important source of inspiration. So is a sense of connection
between the present and the past - whether it is found in my own
memories or in the experience of being somewhere where others have
walked or lived before me.
on the Cobourg Poetry Workshop
I can't say enough about it. The energy is very creative and supportive.
We're all on task - we're about poetry. It's that simple. I love
the diversity of voices. I also, of course, like the poetry. Every
month, when we meet at The Cat and the Fiddle, there are phrases
that catch my breath, or a turn in the narration or description
that takes me by surprise and is utterly delightful. At the same
time, there is a sense of belonging and acceptance. The CPW made
my return to poetry possible and I am deeply grateful to this community
of poets for it.
Who are your
well versed in poetry and I'm always appreciative when people share
gems of poetry. I made a presentation to the Workshop comparing
the WWI poetry of Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon and their
contrasting war experiences. This led me to Wilfred Owen and Robert
Graves as well, their voices shedding light on an event that occurred
almost a century ago. I think Christian Bok has written a tour de
force with Eunoia while Dylan Thomas takes my breath away. It's
hard for me to believe that a mere mortal wrote Fern Hill.
you reading these days?
I usually have a couple of books on the go. I'm just finishing Shakespeare
(The Illustrated and Updated Edition) by Bill Bryson which asks
the question, How much do we really know about William Shakespeare.
The answer, not much. And I'm just starting Monarchy: England and
Her Rulers from the Tudors to the Windsors by David Sharky.
Whom do you admire in life?
to say, I find something to admire in most people I meet. Really.
And I hope I convey this to them. For instance, this past fall I
taught ethics to nursing students at Trent University. Two hundred
students - some fresh out of high school. Some with degrees already,
some who had been away from school for many years. To me, each student
displayed courage, dedication. They were doing 3 days in the classroom,
2 days in the clinic, plus having families, jobs, other responsibilities;
that had compassion and truly cared about their patients and wanted
to help. I really admired those students very much.