The Book of LIFE

by Joseph Campana


July Open 2016 Reading Period Selection

Using the lenses of arts critic and scholar of Renaissance literature, Joseph Campana writes poems inspired by a lifetime of consuming LIFE Magazine, locating an individual life in the churning wake of great events. Here is a poet who persists in the hope of reawakening the past.

Format: paperback

Publication Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946482-20-4 Categories: , , Tags: , ,

The Book of LIFE finds inspiration in the pages of LIFE magazine, from its origin in the great depression to its demise amid the Apollo missions, with many milestones between: the Korean War and Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War and immolation of Thich Quang Duc, and the Kennedy and King assassinations. LIFE’s compendium of the American century stretches from its initial cover, Margaret Bourke-White’s photo of the Fort Peck Dam in Montana, to its final, year-in-review issue covering the lunar mission, with an image of the Earth that awakened a planetary consciousness. Joseph Campana locates an individual life in the churning wake of great events, as a poet persists in the hope of reawakening the past.

Additional information

Weight .4 lbs
Dimensions 6 × 5 × 9 in
Photo by Katya Horner

Joseph Campana is a poet, arts critic, and scholar of Renaissance literature. He is the author of three collections of poetry, The Book of Faces (Graywolf, 2005), Natural Selections (Iowa, 2012), which received the Iowa Poetry Prize, and The Book of Life (Tupelo, 2019). His poetry appears in Slate, Kenyon Review, Poetry, Conjunctions, GuernicaMichigan Quarterly Review, and Colorado Review, while individual poems have won prizes from Prairie Schooner and the Southwest Review. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Houston Arts Alliance, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He reviews the arts, books, media and culture regularly for The Houston ChronicleCultureMapThe Kenyon Review, and other venues and is the author of dozens of scholarly essays on Renaissance literature and culture as well as a study of poetics The Pain of Reformation: Spenser, Vulnerability, and the Ethics of Masculinity (Fordham, 2012). He teaches at Rice University where he is Alan Dugald McKillop Professor of English.

“The faces of Joseph Campana’s beautifully inventive first collection are those that stare most urgently at us while we grow blind: hunger (spiritual and literal), war, peace, fame, hope, fashion, heartlessness, greed. What this one vision does with the idea of the mask . . . is groundbreaking—the face of the maker, the face of the made.” —Jorie Graham

“Joseph Campana’s The Book of Faces is an extraordinary debut . . . not the expected fare but something finer, more provocative, enchanting and rich.” —Alice Fulton

“Campana’s poems haunt, instruct, and console me.”—David Wojahn