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Diva Paperback – September 10, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (September 10, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822324172
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822324171
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,353,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Rafael Campo seems to have recognized early on that, like William Carlos Williams, his work as a physician gives him entry into what Williams called "the secret gardens of the self." No wonder Campo's best poetry has always drawn on his knowledge of the human body and his informed compassion for the sick. But if the ghost of Williams hovers over the pages of Diva, so does that of Walt Whitman, with his life-affirming philosophy of connection and brotherhood, and his joyous acceptance of the flesh.

Campo's third collection is arranged in five sections, the first drawing an imaginative map of Cuba and the poet's conflicted feelings toward his paternal homeland. In "The Dream of Loving Cuba," he writes:

It's half-erect
beneath America on all my maps--
just look at how it wants me, shamelessly,
a geographic urge that can't be helped,
a crime of nature, both a heretic and ever faithful to its needs.
Indeed, Campo is often strongest when describing experiences beyond his own, whether the subject is pre-revolutionary Cuba, motherhood, or slow death from AIDS. His is the voice from the bedside, the voice of the interested onlooker. This capability serves him well in "Baby Pictures," a long prose poem on maternity, in which childbirth becomes a metaphor for every sort of origin. Sometimes, however, he appears to view womanhood in the Latin manner, as an exotic and unfortunate condition (see his poem on the great, lost Audre Lorde.) Even in "The Pelvic Exam," in which the narrator-cum-doctor explores a teenage girl's pelvic cavity for signs of cancer, his empathy seems to be at war with his horror of being penetrated, of passivity: "At first the tears that drop are half-controlled. / Abnormal bleeding after periods / Has made her pain's unwilling centerfold."

The book ends with Campo's fluid, admirable translations of Lorca's queer-themed Sonnets of Dark Love. The author also adds a note about Lorca's influence on his own work, explaining that he spent years "trying to make my English sound like Spanish, that elusive inner language of my lost childhood in Latin America." Whether he's succeeded in this bit of linguistic cross-pollination is hard to gauge. But in his frequent use of rhyme and his gift for observing his immediate environment, Campo has undoubtedly produced a satisfying, accessible body of work, which has won him a pair of Lambda Literary Awards and a nomination for the 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award. The poems in Diva, especially the title poem à clef on adolescent clarity and angst, should only extend his considerable audience. --Regina Marler

From Library Journal

Not just a poet, the talented Campo is also a physician associated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and Harvard Medical School, the son of Cubans who fled Castro's regime, and a gay man whose works have won not just the National Poetry Series Award but two Lambda Literary Awards. All these factors inform his poetry, which is open, passionate, and unflinching in its exploration of issues close at hand. Much contemporary writing described as "brutally honest" only assumes that stance, not really taking risks, but Campo's heartfelt prose is the real thing. He lays himself bare and in the process creates art.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "wordigirli" on February 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
In "Diva," Rafael Campo brings to life the issues that color the world today with bold and touching lines of poetry and prose. Campo's palpable language not only invites but envelopes the reader into his world of pain and anguish, loves and passions-- and the everyday happenstances of life in America and abroad. A doctor by profession, Campo stitches the raw realities of the medical world with the ever-impending emotional tugging that comes along with the social stigmas associated with incurable illnesses such as AIDS. Campo delicately treads on the balance between experience and observation, leading the reader to a heightened awareness of the world around her/him and an empathetic eye to those who share it.
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By "wordigirli" on February 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
In "Diva," Rafael Campo brings to life the issues that color the world today with bold and touching lines of poetry and prose. Campo's palpable language not only invites but envelopes the reader into his world of pain and anguish, loves and passions-- and the everyday happenstances of life in America and abroad. A doctor by profession, Campo stitches the raw realities of the medical world with the ever-impending emotional tugging that comes along with the social stigmas associated with incurable illnesses such as AIDS. Campo delicately treads on the balance between experience and observation, leading the reader to a heightened awareness of the world around her/him and an empathetic eye to those who share it.
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