Joseph Campana teaches Renaissance literature at Rice University. His poems have appeared in Slate, Kenyon Review, Poetry, Conjunctions, Colorado Review, and many other venues. His first book of poetry, The Book of Faces, was published in 2005. He is also author of The Pain of Reformation: Spenser, Vulnerability, and the Ethics of Masculinity. (Author photo by Katya Horner)
"Joseph Campana’s Natural Selections gently reminds us of the brutal fact that the mythic world remains present in this one. Subtly inverting the Orpheus myth, Campana suffers his beloved’s loss—a division that leads not to an underworld quest, but to wandering the rural roads of Ohio, where the poet does not sing so that the world hears him, but more humbly, more importantly, sings so as to listen to the world."
"Like James Wright and Sherwood Anderson—both of whom he pays homage to in this stunning collection—Joseph Campana understands that the Midwest is less a place than a strangely inscrutable state of mind, where our losses and vulnerabilities are shown in terrifyingly high relief. This is to say that Campana also understands—as too few poets do these days—that the principal business of the lyric poem is heartbreak. As he puts it in one of the book's most characteristic efforts, 'How potent the longing, / how potent the fear. / The two as one, the two / as hawk and shadow.' Campana's poems haunt, instruct, and console me."
University of Iowa Press