“These are poems of faith, but not easy or naïve faith. Theirs is a faith that must include the warning, ‘Your convictions / May not survive.’ Stephen Kampa’s poems edify; may his prayers be answered.”
H. L. Hix, author of First Fire, Then Birds: Obsessionals 1985–2010
“Kampa possesses a Byronic delight in and virtuosity with rhyme…. It's rather extraordinary that this is only his first book. It makes you joyful at his promise.”
The Hopkins Review
“You could say that the whole book is about teleology. It's about what is the order of things, what is the evidence the world gives us, and the answer is a Christian one; it’s also messy and funny. It comes in a particular flavor, which is the flavor of Stephen Kampa, which reminds us of other people but also is only like itself, the poet himself…. I love this book.”
Books & Culture
“Goodbye, plain style. Here is a poet of high style, who writes with the passion of Henry Vaughan and the wit of Lord Byron, the sheer virtuosity of James Merrill and Anthony Hecht and a lexicon to make W. H. Auden look up from his daily crosswords in Paradise. The range of tone and subject is breathtaking.”
Mark Jarman, author of Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems
Stephen Kampa’s poems are witty and restless in their pursuit of an intelligent modern faith. They range from a four-line satire of office inspirational posters to a lengthy meditation on the silence of God. The poems also revel in the prosodic possibilities of English’s
high and low registers: a twenty–one line homage
to Lord Byron that turns on three rhymes (one of which is “eisegesis”); a sestina whose end words include “sentimental,” “Marseilles,” and “Martian;” sapphics on the death of Ray Charles; and intricately modulated stanzas on the 1931 Spanish–language movie version of Dracula.
Despite the metaphysical seriousness, there is always an undercurrent of stylistic levity — a panoply of puns, comic rhymes, and loving misquotations of canonical literature — that suggests comedy and tragedy are inextricably bound in human experience.
Stephen Kampa holds degrees from Carleton College and the Johns Hopkins University. His work has appeared in the Hopkins Review, Southwest Review, River Styx, Subtropics, and Smartish Pace. He currently lives in Daytona Beach, Florida, where he works as a musician. Cracks in the Invisible is his first book.
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