a lyric poet who is part of the neoformalist tradition (see NEW FORMALISM), uses form to make sense of the body and its functions as he writes about the AIDS pandemic in both poetry and prose. A physician at Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Campo's thematic concern—a doctor who writes about his patients—is reminiscent of William Carlos WILLIAMS's work in the early and mid-20th century. Part of the growing multicultural canon of writers, Campo is concerned with his multiple, sometimes conflicting identities as a physician, HIV-negative gay man, and Latino.
Born in Dover, New Jersey, to Cuban immigrant parents, Campo graduated from Amherst College (1987), where he studied poetry with the poet and critic Eve Sedgwick. He then attended Harvard Medical School, with a year's hiatus in his medical education (1990) to pursue an M.F.A. in poetry with Derek walcott at Boston University. Torn between poetry and medicine, he jokes that he was afraid to "come out" as a poet, something that inevitably happened when his first book, The Other Man Was Me: A Voyage to the New World was selected as the winner of the 1993 National Poetry Series Open Competition (Healing 114-115). His early critical success was followed by literary recognitions, such as a Lambda Literary Award, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, finalist for the PEN Center West Literary Award, finalist and a recipient of the National Hispanic Academy of Arts and Sciences Annual Achievement Award, and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship.
Campo participates in a larger literary and philosophic tradition of healers. Jeffrey Beame writes, "The music of What the Body Told," one of Campo's books, published in 1996, "its healing generosity, alchemizes a balm for the weary soul, the torn body, this feckless world" (33). In "Night Inexpressible," Campo's tight tercets form the structure of his emotion as he describes his relationship with a patient. David L. Kirp of the Nation writes that "Campo's voice carries the traces of a host of healers, poets and prophets, a chorus whose members include Wallace STEVENS and Mother Teresa, Richard Rodriguez and AIDS physician Abraham Verghese" (31). Campo separates himself from Williams and others by pursuing the larger meaning of AIDS in the context of his proximity to and distance from his subject matter. Campo is complicit in AIDS as a physician who cares for his patients and as part of two at-risk groups: gay men and Latinos. Simultaneously, however, he struggles to versify his distance as someone who understands AIDS and empathizes with it but is ultimately removed by virtue of his own HIV-negative status.
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