The first collection of a poet now honored for his work.
I tell him I am Zeop the Centurion.
He writes it down in my case notes.
In the green room he plays with paper clips,
Talks to the girl from the Migraine Unit,
Decides he will sleep on it.
Next morning the staff team convenes.
Porcelain cups for psychiatrists,
Plastic for everyone else.
Decisions have to be reached.
I sit in a straight-backed chair.
‘We don't think that you are Zeop the Centurion’ he says.
‘I know that’ I say. ‘Why else do you think I'm in here?’
Disability Arts Online, Joe Bidder
An adult life spent periodically inside the now virtually extinct mental asylums has provided a rich seam of images and emotions for Campbell to draw on. He sees the asylum as a country house landscape; a haven from pressure but also a place of enormous power for psychiatrists who were able to (and frequently did) abuse their privileged positions. The poetry contains an exquisite ambivalence, as in Inside the Garden, which starts:
In a Surrey asylum garden
there are peonies, large and showy.
There is Quercus robur shading the hollows.
Butterflies, colours founded in Eden.
But there are no smiling natives.
This is a book you must buy and a poet who should be seen and heard in performance.
Asylum Magazine for Democratic Psychiatry, Dina Poursanidou
When I came across certain examples of psychiatric survivor poetry, I felt that in those poems madness is talked about and represented in a way that does full justice to the experience of extreme states and the experiential, embodied, tacit knowledge stemming from them. I felt that in those poems madness is not ‘lost’ in translation…
One of those poems is Peter Campbell’s Drugtime Cowboy Joe , included in the collection Brown Linoleum, Green Lawns that was published in 2006.
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