“Natural Selections” by Joseph Campana

Over the past couple months, I’ve mentioned that I wanted to start a monthly poetry spotlight in order to increase my knowledge of contemporary poetry.  I’m finally doing it!

I received a copy of the collection “Natural Selections” by Joseph Campana through NetGalley.  I read the book a few weeks ago, but I haven’t been satisfied with my review.  Poetry is a bit of a challenge to write about, as it depends a lot on the reader’s perspective and tastes.  The type of style that may work for one person might leave another confused or depressed.  I’m hoping that I’ll get better at reviewing poetry as I read more of it…

The poems in “Natural Selections” have a very solemn tone remniscent of Native American mythology.  They tell the story of a man’s introspection during a nocturnal drive through Ohio.

Here’s a brief sample of one of the poems in the collection entitled “Jay”:

Don’t be blue, said the sky, but the world wouldn’t

listen.  Each night tasted like drowning, each day

choked on its own bloom.  There were darker things

than the eye of sky, there were smaller things too.

Don’t be said the blue so the light stole away.

As for the twisted leaves?  As for the idols of morning?

Nothing left to be.  Nothing left to know.

Some of my favorite poems in the collection were “Homer, Ohio,” which ties modern America to Greek legends, “Democracy in Ohio,” which describes a feeling of powerlessness with regard to government, and “Rural Evening,” which focuses on economic tensions and the harsh reality of life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this collection, as the roadside observations of small-towns and countryside reminded me of my own childhood in Western Pennsylvania.  However, these poems might not be your thing if the motif of a dead deer hanging from a tree is something that bothers you.  Overall, I liked Campana’s tone, which at once contained both a sense of loss and a celebration of nature’s haunting beauty.


Edit:  I’m including this post in the Read More/Blog More Poetry Event.  This monthly poetry event fits perfectly with my goal to read more poetry this year!

Categories: Poems/Ballads | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on ““Natural Selections” by Joseph Campana

  1. I agree. It’s so hard to review one poem, let a lone an entire book. I would say Campana’s poems here are subtle and gradually piercing.

  2. Jay is such a lovely poem.
    I hope I can find Natural Selections @ Goodreads

  3. Pingback: February 2012: A Month in Review « Books Without Any Pictures

  4. I should read more poetry, but to be honest, sometimes it makes me feel not so bright. I wish I could think like a poet.

    • I know the feeling… some poetry I can identify with, and other poets leave me in the dark about what they are actually trying to say. 😛

  5. I think I would like this collection as well. kaye—the road goes ever ever on

  6. These sound like poems I should read while living in Ohio.

  7. If you are interested another blogger and I are hosting a monthly poetry event. The newest post went up today if you want to share your URL in the Mr. Linky.

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