James Tweedie and David Campiche are like a pair of mismatched socks.

The duo of poets and friends recently released their new book, “Sidekicks: Visions of the Pacific Northwest.”

The book commemorates their appreciation for the Pacific Northwest through poetry and photography that represents the lower Columbia River to southern Alaska.

The poems contextualize the images that encompass life among the Pacific. Coastal sunsets and cloudy skies are interwoven with shells and creatures, rivers and tides and the occasional human.

One of Tweedie’s featured poems, “My Life is Lived Beneath a Dancing Sky,” states, “My life is lived beneath a dancing sky, where tutu-ed, toe-tip clouds of white and gray plie their way across the stage each day, and wink and blink the sun as they pass.”

Tweedie said the book’s images and poems are descriptive, rather than declarative. He said that the work doesn’t take any kind of stance but instead explores.

“My hope would be that the words and pictures that I’ve created would somehow connect with the person’s own experience,” Tweedie said. “That we somehow could trigger a familiarity, a common experience that we share. I know that’s what I find in David’s work.”

Campiche agreed, adding his poems make a statement about his existence.

“It’s a human statement. It says I care,” he said. “These are difficult times, everything seems to split up and everyone’s angry. It’s nice to set it aside and write a poem.”

Connected by poetry

The book opens with a preface that states, “Both artists scratch at the surface of the road less traveled, because interpretation also remains flexible and definable to each person’s private reflections.”

The pair’s different backgrounds influenced their relationship to poetry. Tweedie is a pastor and Campiche a potter. They reflect on their experiences through writing.

Campiche started writing poems in high school. He has spent 60 years since practicing.

Campiche said the similarity between pottery and poetry is that they both take years of practice. When writing, he often references a lesson he learned from the famous ceramic artist Toshiko Takaezu — you’ll need to throw away the first 10,000 pieces you make.

Tweedie also began writing poetry in high school. He was able to practice in ministry, mostly writing song lyrics. He’s recently taken poetry more seriously. Within the last five years, he started publishing his work through his own press, the Dunecrest Press.

“Sidekicks” is Tweedie’s third collection of poetry. He has also published six novels and a collection of short stories on Long Beach, Washington.

As for their friendship, Tweedie said “as long as he keeps cooking me breakfast,” they’ll get along just fine.

“Food leads people to good friendships. So does good wine but this is a different front altogether,” Campiche said.

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(1) comment

Jenn Nightingale

This is a really nice piece. With the separation that we all feel from social distancing - our local paper plays a vital role in connecting us.

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