Barbara Campbell of St. Mark’s, New Britain, has been invited by our bishops to be Connecticut’s “Diocesan Poet.”
But don’t think of this as some stuffy, distant appointment.
“We invited Barbara to tap into our inner poet and claim a creative expression of our faith,” said Bishop Laura J. Ahrens, who took the lead on this effort. “By calling her ‘Diocesan Poet’ we hope she’ll help all of us, as a diocese, to claim our collective poetic voices,” she said.
Barbara understands her new role is more of an instigator than a distant expert, although she does come with credentials as a published poet.
A retired high school and college teacher, she also has your first assignment.
Love of poetry
Barbara Campbell loves poetry and has been writing poems for decades. “Since I got my first computer more than 30 years ago,” she said. Her favorite poets (whom she calls her “poetic heroes”) include Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Martin Espada, and Emily Dickinson.
She’s also an active lay woman serving in both parish and diocesan leadership, including St. Mark’s participation in a multi-year regional partnership to develop missional churches. The poetry is connected.
“As Diocesan Poet, I encourage the writing of poetry as a way to continue to tell our stories,” she explained. “Directly related to us as Episcopalians is writing poems about our own reactions and those of others as we practice being missional, and our descriptions of living in a world and a church both constantly facing change. From time to time I will invite poetry written on a designated theme (see first invitation at end of article). If I can be an instigator of creativity, give an opportunity for a voice to be heard, encourage working as co-creators with God, the effort will be well-placed.”
by Barbara A. Campbell
(c) March 2012
Like metal filings to a magnet,
I am drawn to fabric stores.
I roll my carriage
through the new offerings
but know I am headed
to that corner of the store
where the remnants are,
I don’t mind the mess.
I’m looking for that one piece of material,
just the right size,
perfect color and feel
for a special project.
That bolt of material down to its last yard
knows it is still worth
$9.99 or $12.00 or even $24.00 a yard,
so, too, those of us still in the church
know our worth lies in God’s grace.
We see, feel and know
(we count the congregation)
we are at the end of our bolt
and surrounded by new possibilities.
From all those shirts and dresses —
a warm quilt of memories,
from the Red Tag shelf —
the silky scarf so admired,
from the tail ends of skeins —
the knit laprobe
that delights with color, warmth and prayer.
What’s the next quilt, or scarf or laprobe
God’s fingers are itching to create?
What relationships of color and texture and warmth
will transform this remnant
into a new creation?
Within that grace,
will I be able to follow Her pattern?
will I be willing
to share my stash?