‘From The Pink Sands’: Rhys’s tribute to Bermuda
From The Pink Sands is Rhys Campbell’s debut collection of poems.
The 24-year-old considered it a fitting title for the tribute he wrote to his island home – the 11 poems in the chapbook share Bermuda as a theme.
“A lot of the inspiration came from landscapes, my experiences on the island, different interactions,” he said. “I really wanted to capture what it was to be Bermudian, some of the Bermudian lingo, and just the wholesome radiance of people here; just the generosity and beautiful nature of living in Bermuda.”
Mr Campbell was born here but moved to the United Kingdom with his parents while still an infant.
“My experience growing up in Bermuda was basically just coming out on holidays to visit family,” he said. “Every time I came, I fell in love with it a bit more and as I got older, it just made sense to move back and experience Bermuda for myself as an adult and as a Bermudian.”
He started on his path at the age of 14, writing lyrics for the music he loved. Added inspiration came from Levi the Poet, an American spoken word artist and writer. His work has been published in “multiple anthologies and zines” such as Sunday Mornings at the River, Pastel Serenity Zine and Color Tag Magazine.
“My love for writing and poetry basically sported from my love of metal and hardcore bands when I was younger,” Mr Campbell said. “A lot of the bands would use spoken-word poetry and have epic monologues and melodic hardcore songs. And then I just started writing because it felt natural.”
His work as “a paid lyricist for a few different bands” helped him “expand and learn more” and then he discovered such writers as TS Eliot, WH Auden, Charles Bukowski, Terence McKenna and Alan Watts who “played a huge part” in his writing.
“It’s not like a traditional background where I went to university and I studied the art of English or anything like that,” said Mr Campbell, who studied film at college. “In fact, I didn't excel that much in the education system. It was later on that I discovered my love of writing.”
Eventually he started posting his poetry on Instagram and “gained a little bit of a following”.
“People were telling me to keep it up. The messages that I was conveying through my poetry resonated with them. And that's how I became known for it.”
The transition from Wales to Bermuda “really wasn’t” difficult at all, he added.
“Because growing up I visited Bermuda every so often and I knew the family I have over here very well. Obviously it didn't take me too long to familiarise myself as the island is a small and easy to navigate place and everyone is lovely and very welcoming.
“Everyone showed me around and made me feel positive; I had an immediate family. It really is a lovely community here and I was welcomed into it with open arms.”
Mr Campbell was working on another anthology that included a poem about Bermuda when he decided the island deserved its own collection.
“It’s such a beautiful island. There's a lot of art that has come from Bermuda that has inspired a lot of the poetry. I've talked about Bermuda as being this beautiful isle hidden away in the Atlantic Ocean.
“Some of the poems I started since moving here in 2018. [The book] did take me quite a while. I wanted to make it perfect; something I would be happy with.”
He included a lot of “personal experiences” in the book.
“I did try to incorporate as much as I understand about the history of the Devil’s Isle without going too into depth and sounding descriptive. I wanted to make it still very much about the poems,” Mr Campbell said.
“And then there's mention of moon gates, certain types of flowers, mannerisms. I wanted to capture as much as I could from what I have taken from Bermuda. It’s still very individual. As much as I tried to attempt to make it objective it still was very much individual.”
He is pleased with the response he has had to the book so far.
“I've yet to have official reviews but I've heard great feedback from people. I've had Brown & Company and the Bermuda Book Store read the manuscript and they [have agreed to] stock the books. Everything I've heard so far has been fantastic.”