Encourage emulation. Inspire idolatry. Be a muse, be a nymph, be a sprite, bewitch me. Rise from obscurity. Set trends. Break habits. Make statements. Count blessings. Distribute kindnesses. Arouse devotion. Devote yourself to nobility. Ascend, ascend, ascend.
—from “How to Be a Star”
“Joseph Campana’s The Book of Faces is an extraordinary debut. Audrey Hepburn (yes) is the muse and channel for his meditations on the seductions of the screen and page, the Bright Lady of his sonnets, the star and spirit who ‘drags / the miracle vapor forth.’ His poems—lovely, witty, sincere or cynical things—are haunted both by Hepburn (and her leading men) and by a fascinating array of literary specters: Catullus, Petrarch, Chaucer, Spenser, Foucault, Barthes. At times, the surface blurs till poetry wears the austere face of prose, and prose assumes the oblique face of poetry. The vocabulary is disarmingly simple, but the syntax is refracted and compressed in beautifully riddling ways. ‘Fix me a you comfort in darkness. . .’ Campana writes, and we can imagine the nectar power of that ‘you comfort,’ that cocktail. The Book of Faces is not the expected fare but something finer, more provocative, enchanting and rich.”—Alice Fulton