In his third collection, Campo presents visceral poems that grow organically from the body: his own body and the bodies of patients, lovers, family, and friends. He doesn't write about being a gay physician of Cuban background--rather he crafts poems that address pain, love, and memory within a metrical framework so seamlessly that readers might feel they are healing, seeking, and singing alongside him.

Outstanding poems include "Sonnet in the Cuban Way," "The Return," "The Dream of Loving Cuba," "Madonna and Child," "Baby Pictures" (a prose-poem sequence), "A Poet's Education," "The Changing Face of Aids," and "Recognition." Section V, "Lorca," gives us Campo's translations of Federico Garcia Lorca's Sonnets of Dark Love.


In his poem, "A Poet's Education," Campo says that he wanted poetry to "be romantic," unlike the cold corpses he dissected in Harvard's labs, and that he longed to find a way to expose the heart "without the scalpel's blade." This excellent collection achieves those aims. His writing gains power from his willingness to be fragile and his courage to cross boundaries some writers shy away from, for example in the wonderful poem "Marry Me," written for his partner Jorge.

Campo's three main themes--his role as an empathetic physician, his life as a passionate gay man, and his attempt to understand, honor, and integrate his Cuban heritage--integrate this collection with such compassion that no one theme dominates. These poems are also about music--the rhythm, form, and syncopation that mimic the body's own--and about language--how we search for the words that might connect us, doctor to patient, son to father, lover to loved.


Diva was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award.


Duke Univ. Press

Place Published

Durham, N.C.



Page Count