Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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5 Questions with Mary Baine Campbell ’71


Mary Baine Campbell ’71Poet, climate activist, and Professor Emerita of English in Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Brandeis University, Mary’s publications include The Witness and the Other World, Wonder and Science: Imagining Worlds in Early Modern Europe, and poetry collections The World, the Flesh and Angels, and Trouble.

Summarize your Simons Rock experience in 12 words or less.

I had wonderful teachers and friends, and I was free in a beautiful place. 

When was the moment you realized you were a poet?

Like many people who have written poems all their lives, there was not a moment, and in fact, a lot of us never think of ourselves as that. It’s such a grand claim. Even Chaucer never referred to himself as a poet. He called himself a maker. Poet was used for Homer, Virgil and Dante. Everybody should be a poet. There are cultures where poetry is something that everybody does. It seems to me that the human norm is that poetry matters.

When you think of Simon’s Rock, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?

One of my favorite memories is of the wonderful acoustics at Kendrick. We did a lot of playing music at night. We got out our glasses and made the crystal “ring.” We would jam on our glasses, making the sound of the glass harmonica fill up the space.

Where have you travelled that has inspired you most?

Orkney, Scotland. It moved me more than I can put into words. We barely made it because of the hurricanes in Europe. I visited Skara Brae, a prehistoric village. I was able to see beautiful 800-year old graffiti that had been scratched into the wall by shipwrecked Norse sailors.

Why do you give to Simon’s Rock?

I give to Simon’s Rock because I was so happy there.