Read This: Sea Trails by Pris Campbell
I first met poet Pris Campbell through her blog, Songs to a Midnight Sky. Although we've never met in person, I've gotten to know her through her candid posts and significant body of work, which she has shared on her blog and in her new collection, Sea Trails ($15, Lummox Press). Here, Pris talks about the creation of the collection.
What prompted you to write Sea Trails?
Actually, I never set out to write a book. I wrote "Streaking," a poem based on the New Jersey leg of my 1977 trip down the east coast in my Tanzer 22 sailboat. A terrifying storm hit the night we headed for Atlantic City and I tied it in with the deteriorating relationship with my partner whom I refer to only as R. The poem was published in Empowerment4Women and tucked it away under my other publications.
I soon realized how much I enjoyed writing that poem, so I wrote more, based on other aspects of the trip. I started a sailing poems folder. From time to time, I would add to the folder. One day I looked at the poems trying to decide if I wanted to submit a batch to a journal and suddenly recognized that a book was actually trying to write itself. I dug out my old scrapbook from the trip, with photos and snippets of small charts from the area guidebooks along the way, then pulled out my old log books. Yes, I still had them almost 30 years later. I began going through the log notes and writing more poems as they spurred more specific memories. It seemed natural at that point to add snippets of the log notes since they provided a good transition between the poems. I merged and smoothed them out for better reading.
Lognotes? Sailing poems? A relationship falling further apart as my connection with the sea and life on the water grew? This wasn’t a traditional poetry book. I tucked it away, feeling no-one would publish such a mixed bag. Last November, 2008, I took it with me to on a weekend getaway to Daytona and shared it with a dear friend, Margie Stevenson. She read it, made some suggestions, loved it and told me I had to get it ‘out there’. After that, I began sharing the poems with Scott Owens and Carter Monroe and, with their help, seriously honed the poems and added new poems when needed.
I still didn’t have confidence that it would be taken seriously with log notes, so I sent it to Lummox first with them removed, but mentioned what I’d done. Raindog said they actually sounded intriguing and asked to see them. He liked the combination and Sea Trails was born.
I must go down to the sea again... – John Masefield
I board the tiny sloop that has carried me
twice to Maine with its deep
silent harbors and moaning buoys.
I'm ensnared, trapped by increasing
longings to ride that magic carpet
into places different from my own
narrow world of nine to five rewind.
Saltwater rises through my body,
is transformed through its heat
into golden mist. I expand
without Alice's cookies,
become a gull dropping clams
on the rocks to crack them,
a molting lobster, a leaping dolphin,
a man watching the sky from a deserted dock.
The sea is my cradle and it rocks me,
lulling me into new ways of seeing.
My arms unfurl into sails.
I let the wind take me.