Whether wandering the paths of the imagination, driving through sparsely populated countryside, or listening for the voices of animals, Joseph Campana’s poemsattend to the ways we are indelibly marked by habitat. Shot full of accidental attachments and reluctant transience, Natural Selections produces from vibrant contradiction potent song.
In poems both lyric and expansive, Natural Selections finds in the simplicity and strangeness of middle America a complex metaphysics of place and an uncanny perspective reminiscent of the landscapes of Grant Wood. Birds and beasts, frequent storms, country roads, a fraught election, and some of Ohio’s literary guardian angels (James Wright, Hart Crane, and Sherwood Anderson) haunt the poems. Whether enigmatically refracted or brutally direct, these poems attend to the way life is beautifully, violently, and unexpectedly marked by place.
With a boldness of vision that might overwhelm a lesser talent, Joseph Campana gives us a collection guided by a focused intelligence and yet containing wonderment and awe at its heart. By turns ferocious and charming, contemporary and mythic, grief-stricken and funny, the poet’s voice is always original, direct, and pitch-perfect. The poems in this book are a wonder.