LANDSCAPE WITH HUMAN FIGURE
A modern-day poet/M.D. teaching and practicing general internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Campo writes restless, worldly narrative poems, often rhyming, that take—and unapologetically engage—the world as it presents itself: "Your back,/ As you leaned over glucose forming bonds/ With oxygen, was broad and strong; your leg/ Was pressing into mine, while all around the college seemed too temporal to beg// the question any longer. Tenting out/ My jeans, my surging, rock-hard cock propelled/ me to your dorm," he writes of his underground self. Campo has garnered a Lambda Literary Award for Diva (1999), which was also an NBCC finalist. When his insouciant, call-them-as-I-seem-them descriptions work, in this fourth collection, they are luminous, addressing the ravages of AIDS, particularly, with care and respect. In "Phone Messages on Call," for instance, each of five sections begins with a shorthand-like phone message such as "Pls call soon. Diarrhea x 2d. PS I have SIDA (AIDS)"; the poems that follow are narrative rhyming couplets that describe the returned call. "Undetectable," a lyric about two lovers, both with AIDS, embeds haunting lyricism in lines such as "Neuropathy,/ lymphoma, rectal warts, plus viral loads/ consistently above 300K." The rhymes and near-rhymes in both poems seem essential. Less vital-seeming are the poems set in Cuba and elsewhere, where the speaker remarks on various devastations, but leaves unchanged. Yet Campo's virtuosity and willingness to put the world in the poems gives this uneven book a real groundedness and depth. (Feb.)
Forecast:Campo has appeared on National Public Radio and published poems in the Nation and New York Times Magazine, among other prominent venues. Look for an author tour, a fair number of reviews and short magazine profiles, driven by the medical angle, to push sales.
Release date: 01/01/2002