Before taking the stage Wednesday night, Peter Campion said the theme of his reading is not just be about reciting poetry – it’s about voice and voices.
“Some of these poems of mine use different voices or have more than one speaker,” Campion said. “Something I’m really interested in is how we talk and how we tell our stories and how these voices exist in context.”
Although his scheduled counterpart, fiction writer Joshua Ferris, was unable to attend, Campion’s own voice compensated for the absence as he spoke to the 150 guests at the November Writers Here & Now series.
“I thought that he was very engaging,” said Julie Brown, a graduate assistant at the Writers’ House. “And I enjoyed hearing him read the poems more than reading them on the page. They came alive more.”
Campion read a collection of 10 poems from his most recent book, “El Dorado,” and his current work in progress, “Greensleeves,” at the monthly poetry and fiction reading co-sponsored by the university’s English department and the Jiménez-Porter Writers’ House.
“Greensleeves” will be the award-winning poet’s fourth book of poetry. Campion’s awards include The Pushcart Prize, the Larry Levis Award, the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
“I thought his poems had this really rhythmic quality to them that hooked everyone in,” said sophomore anthropology and English major Warren Griffiths. “Like music, almost. I just thought it was really enjoyable to hear him read.”
Campion said his poems contained echoes of jazz influence and the sounds of the people and the places he has experienced.
His reading, which included poems “Terry’s Shoes,” “Danielle” and “Spiderbite Blue,” explored these voices through words spoken by him and others in his life.
“I love the mystery of it,” Campion said. “The rhythm, the sound and the enchanting aspect of it. And when I did come to understand it, I loved how poetry could both reflect and embody some of the biggest questions about existence and give shape and meaning to life – or maybe disrupt what are too easily assumed shapes or meanings and create something wilder or more wondrous.”
The next and final Writers Here & Now of the semester is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 3.
University alumni Tyler Mills, Elissa Washuta and John Van Kirk will read their poetry, nonfiction and fiction in Ulrich Recital Hall.
Daphne Pellegrino is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.