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!