Furious Dusk by David Campos
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.