“Landscape with Human Figure bespeaks compassion, dedication, and the sort of intellectual curiosity you’d expect from an M.D. with a creative writing degree.” — Eric McHenry, The New York Times Book Review
“Landscape with Human Figure by Rafael Campo is about not having the luxury to look away. An AIDS physician, Campo boldly defies the myth of the kind and courageous care giver. This is not stylish cynicism but a brave admission of his own limitations. He is made speechless by a dying man’s gentle reproach: ‘You can’t know how I feel.” Just as often, Campo peers curiously into the dreamlife of his patients.” — Philip Huang, g POZ
“[A] pleasant and accessible fourth collection of poetry . . . . [T]he gentle, regular rhythms of [Campo’s] poems give them a sense of quiet control. . . . Contemplative, hopeful, and heartfelt. . . .” — Chelsey Johnson, Out
“[A] powerful collection. . . .” — Gregg Shapiro, Windy City Times
“[A]mbitious, elegant poems. . . . [I]n Landscape with Human Figure, Campo’s clear gaze, generous heart and great skill combine to create a resonant and often romantic collection of poems, one that locates and celebrates all our shared ‘outsider’ hearts.” — Kevin Riordan, Philadelphia Gay News
“[Campo’s] contemporary verses bristle with immediacy. . . . The poems explore the contradictions of contemporary culture, seeking to define the place of art in ‘the shrinking world.’ ” — David Caplan, The Columbus Dispatch
“[Campo] writes candidly and with pictorial clarity and color about love won, matured, alienated, and lost; powerfully about the burden of dark skin in a white society, especially in the sonnet sequence ‘Afraid of the Dark;’ and with satiric bite and rueful sympathy about his people and motherland in ‘Cuban Canticle in Five Parts.’ The physician can heal his readers as well as himself.” — Ray Olson, Booklist,
“A Cuban American gay man in ‘unending exile’ (he practices medicine in Boston), Campo writes compelling poems about patients in the ER, probing relationships between doctor and patient, between a patient’s case ‘history’ and the cultural mainstream, between an immigrant family and aspirations to study medicine, between sexuality and the restraint of lovers. Not unlike Chekhov, another physician-author, the steady-eyed Campo comes to terms with the darkest of human problems (‘the muffled screams/ along a hallway to the absolute’) by fusing empathy and clinical accuracy. Strengthened by his hands-on knowledge of healing and suffering and kept gentle by bearing his burdens with grace, Campo asserts that, despite ‘the harrowed world . . . we are together, we are here to stay.’” — Library Journal,
“Campo confirms his celebrated ability to move from formal verses to far-reaching reflections on alienation and the manifestation of internal energies on external surfaces. With emotion and a technical prowess surgical in its delicacy, the book exposes our raw selves and our travels between beauty and terror.” — Rachel DeWoskin, Boston Magazine
“Campo uses strong words to speak of what needs to be spoken of, which includes being a brown person and not feeling at home ‘no matter where I go.’ . . . It is a pleasure to read words that do not hesitate or skirt around tough issues. Campo is clear and direct about what it means to him to be Cuban, gay, a poet. A practicing physician, he also writes about the hospital, illness, and caregiving.” — Holly Spaulding, Foreword
“Campo writes restless, worldly narrative poems, often rhyming, that take—and unapologetically engage—the world as it presents itself. . . . [H]is insouciant, call-them-as-I-seem-them descriptions are luminous, addressing the ravages of AIDS, particularly, with care and respect.” — Publishers Weekly,
“In his newest collection of poems, gay Cuban-American doctor Rafael Campo calls on all of his various, even conflicting, selves to render some sort of artistic meaning out of the pain, mystery and loss he encounters in life. His poetry also brings up interesting if not troubling ideas about just what poetry is, especially at the beginning of a new millennium that will have even less time for it than the last one. . . . [T]he house of poetry, like God’s, has many mansions; with this collection Campo proves himself a worthy occupant.” — H.E.B., Frontiers News Magazine
“Memorable moments can be found throughout Landscape with Human Figure, Campo’s fourth book of elegant, eloquent, resonant poetry. . . . [Campo] is not simply an ‘issues’ poet; he also writes about the everyday life of the heart. And even his polemical poems are often engagingly lyrical and fiercely clever, filled, like all his work, with dextrous wordplay, with all manner of rhyme. . . . No matter the subject, Campo’s poetry is as frank as it is insightful. And it is never less than generous and humane.” — Kevin Riordan, Courier-Post (Cherry Hill NJ)
“Physicians will be particularly moved by Campo’s weary but respectful regard for his patients in the series of ‘Phone Messages on Call.’ They tell of the times we are catapulted into the lives and suffering of patients we barely know, through the portal of a beeper or the ring of a phone. These wonderful narratives, told in rhyming couplets, smack of the impossibility of our work. So many obstacles: HIV infection, poverty, physical abuse, drug addiction. . . . Landscape with Human Figure reminds us all of how we navigate senses of self, in the face of loss and change, with astonishment and sometimes joy.” — Allan Peterkin, Canadian Medical Association Journal
“Rafael Campo blends several selves into his persona as a poet—Cuban-American, openly gay man, physician, AIDS healer, teacher. Each facet of his life is brilliantly yet formally depicted in his fourth collection, Landscape with Human Figure . . . . Each rereading will yield new wisdom, heart, and insight—great poems, really, reveal their truths with inspired reluctance. Campo is among his generation’s best poets . . . .” — Richard Labonte, The Front Page
"[Campo’s] fourth and most compelling collection, a candidate for another award. In today’s hustle and bustle, this collection of poems is highly recommended to take your mind off of yourself and learn how others might react to life and death, laughter and sorrow, and love and hate. A must book for all academic and public libraries, as well as the personal collections who truly appreciate great poets."
— H. Robert Malinowsky, AIDS Book Review Journal
"[M]ature and riveting. . . . [Campo’s] ability to write without emotional restraint, and yet without emotional excess, gives readers a glimpse into a fully human life, one beset with contradictions and imperfections that mirror the world’s. . . . [I]n these well-crafted and well-ordered poems that accrue, in collection, both depth and relevance. Campo, writing at top form for several years, sustains and deepens his voice in this volume. Exploring material he has examined in previous collections, he goes closer to the bone here, displaying a new vulnerability within the framework of precisely crafted poems. As always, Campo’s work is visceral, electric, romantic, and haunting."
— Cortney Davis, Medical Humanities Review
"[T]he majority of Rafael Campo’s verse in Landscape with Human Figure is formal, skillfully using quatrains, couplets, sonnets, and even a sonnet sequence to explore desires between men. . . . [T]he best poems in this collection are simple slices of sexual life, told in quatrains and couplets with slant rhyme, such as 'Your Black Eyes’ and 'An Attribution.’ Throughout, the formality of the poems actually increases their sexiness; the tension between formal verse and images of public, oral, and anal sex—odd images in 'traditional’ verse—creates strains and stresses that are more than just strange; they are erotic. . . . Campo excels at tracing the contours of bodies in heat . . . . Medical images abound, and part of this poet’s 'making strange’ is his ability to see his desires through the lens of medicine. . . . In Campo’s hands, science invites us to consider the strangeness, the inarticulate fragility of our bodies—and of intimacy." — Jonathan Alexander, Lambda Book Report
"Campo is too modest to portray himself as hero, but we sense the heroic in him . . . . [P]art of Campo’s courage is his willingness to confront his own dark fears . . . . Dr. Rafael Campo is inevitably a poet of heartbreak; yet he remains a poet of accompanying hope."
— Sydney Lea, The Hudson Review
"In his fourth and most compelling collection of poetry, physician Rafael Campo confirms his status as one of America’s most important poets. His stunning, candid poems . . . rise with equal beauty from a Boston tenement or a moonlit Spanish plaza, yet remain unafraid to explore and celebrate his identity as a doctor, and Cuban gay man.’"
— Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education,
"While the settings in this collection vary widely — a blacked-out Cuba; a bridge in Florence; a Fayetteville back road — it was the moments in which Campo focuses on the human figures populating these landscapes that resonated the most with me. . . . Moments like these, in which Campo captures some of the nuances of healing, are woven throughout the collection, and remind us that sometimes creating emotional distance — even in writing poetry — is the only way to steel against pain." — Ricardo Hernandez, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Landscape with Human Figure is a striking achievement. I am moved, as his readers are sure to be, by Campo’s wisdom, maturity, depth, heart, and range of experience.” — Grace Schulman
“Rafael Campo is an accomplished formalist. I hugely enjoy watching him skitter from sestina to pantoum, sonnet to rhymed couplets, to say nothing of his own nonce forms devised as the situation suggests.” — Maxine Kumin