Provenance. (Blue Horse Press 2020) In Provenance, Rick Campbell looks clearly at a life with “father, mother, brother, dead,” where the past rises in poems that read like beautiful sad postcards. These are poems of wisdom come by the hard way. But this book is not elegy, even if we “can’t count on angels anymore.” These poems also richly celebrate—river, heron, hawk, friendship, love—“affirming the heart’s / wild desire.” Even as they chronicle loss, they are singing the shining world into being where, at least for a moment, everything “is a small great blessing.” — Lisa Zimmerman
Gunshot, Peacock, Dog. (Madville Publishing 2018) Rick Campbell’s latest collection reads like an extended elegy for the poet himself, for his lost loved ones, and for the changes in the wider world. In this way, it is reminiscent of Hardy. This is the work of a man wise in the ways of the world and not afraid to be what we all are: flawed. His voice is personal and vulnerable. The book consists of very detailed and compressed poems, both focused on the natural world and on an inner landscape described with a consistent tone and voice throughout.
The History of Steel. (All Nations Press 2014) The History of Steel gathers Rick Campbell’s poems and essays about his growing up in the Beaver Valley on the Ohio River 20 miles downriver from Pittsburgh. It reads much like a memoir in verse, with the additional of two essays of creative nonfiction.
Dixmont. (Autumn House Press, 2008) Dixmont is Campbell’s fourth book of poems. Though the book’s title and the title poem come from an asylum outside of Pittsburgh, these poems move, to a great extent, away from the steel mill and Ohio River poems of his earlier work and reside in the lush woodlands of North Florida. It’s a land, and a collection of poems populated by alligators, copperheads, and lots of dogs—often in too close company.
The Traveler’s Companion. (Black Bay Books 2004) Rick Campbell’s early poems—most of these chronicle the steel mill valley he grew up in.
Setting the World in Order. (Texas Tech University Press 2001) “These are poems that testify not only to Rick Campbell’s ever-increasing skill as a poet, but to his tenderness, his courage, his deep appreciation for exactly the way water flows, light falls, and the many ways we honor and dishonor our workaday lives.”—Robert Dana