Rhina P. Espaillat, judge of the 2014 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, describes Furious Dusk, David Campos’s winning collection, as "a work whose five parts trace a son’s efforts—only partially successful—to fulfill his father’s expectations and—perhaps even more difficult—understand those expectations enough to forgive them.” The poet's reflections are catalyzed by learning of his father’s impending death, which, in turn, forces him to examine his father’s expectations against his own evolving concept of what it means to be a man.
The poems' speaker sifts through his past to find the speckles of memory that highlight the pressures to fit the mold of masculinity forged both by the Mexican culture of his father and the American culture he inhabits. The problematic norms of both rip the speaker in two directions as he recounts his father’s severe parenting, as he explores the inability to father a child, as he witnesses human suffering, as he overeats and confronts the effects on his body, and, finally, as he realizes what it means to transcend these expectations. The speaker’s epiphany frees him to reject masculine stereotypes and allows him to see himself simply as a human being. That realization, in turn, enables the speaker to see his father not only as “father,” “husband,” and “man,” but as a citizen of Earth. Through Campos’s bold imagery and accessible language and themes, he memorably adds to the continuing conversation of the effects of cultural expectations on the children of immigrant parents.
"This is a fearless poetics—no heroes, no myth-making, no jazzy lingo games. David Campos is intent on one inner phrase: 'I will become the fire.' I applaud David’s first book. It is relentless in wrestling the darkness, reminiscent in some ways of Delmore Schwartz, Joan Larkin, and Victor Martinez. A tour de force, a rare heart of raw light." —Juan Felipe Herrera, California Poet Laureate
“David Campos writes tenderly and with compassion about fathers, sons, and the way we become men. He writes with an original voice and fire about race, identity, and nation. He writes lyrics that skirt tightropes of impossible, beautiful contradictions. David is a Fresno poet, an American poet, a Chicano poet, and more. This is an extraordinary book of grace, I cannot recommend it highly enough.” —Chris Abani, author of Sanctificum and Hands Washing Water
“A monster debut collection that refuses to go unnoticed, the same way one cannot divert their eyes from an anatomical dissection. In five deftly crafted sections, we are given an unflinching view of the poet’s own innards; from wrestling with eating disorders to father-son relations, body image, and marriage, the tendons and ligaments of a life are exposed, and the red muscle of reality is left jutting toward you, the reader. Campos’s poetry is a physical experience, a glimmering mirror that forces us to call out our own dark secrets, to be accountable and 'take comfort that we’re alive as animals.' From the same literary stomping grounds and fertile groves that first produced the fearless and prophetic Andrés Montoya himself—emerges this new and necessary breed of luminary voice.” —Tim Z. Hernandez, author of Mañana Means Heaven