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A Playbill for Sunset

A Playbill for Sunset | Dan Campion | $19.99 | Trade Paper | 84p | ISBN 9781948509374 | Coming July 2022

The poems in A Playbill for Sunset consider elements of drama in the natural world, elements of wild nature in the theater of human affairs, and scenes in which the elements mingle like playgoers in the foyer. The arc of the book traces a year through its seasons. The speakers of its poems have their say, in their various styles, about folktales and found art, sunsets and submarines, afghans and archaeology. Rooted in the American Midwest prairie, where the sunsets are long and often spectacular, the poems range across cultural space and time, seeking to enact a free play of ideas and emotions within the structures of poetic forms.

“When you encounter a poem by Dan Campion—and they have been appearing all over the place for many years now—you know you are going to be surprised by rhyme and entranced by smart formal choices. In this amazing book of (mostly) sonnets, Campion demonstrates some of the wild surprises that long-tested form still holds, in skilled hands like his.”—Ed Folsom, Roy J. Carver Professor of English and Director, Undergraduate Creative Writing Program, University of Iowa

“In A Playbill for Sunset, Dan Campion meditates, like Montaigne, on a vast array of subjects—cicadas, the iridium layer of Earth, a Seurat painting, the tarantella— but most of all on time, and the way it both flies and freezes.”—Susan McLean, author of The Best Disguise and The Whetstone Misses the Knife

“The weight of life, of wisdom won through grief and loss, through attention paid to experience, all show in these fine poems, a master’s class in formal structures and the art of finding new turns of thought summoned by their rigors.”—David Hamilton, author of A Certain Arc: Essays of Finding My Way and Ossabaw: Poems and former editor of The Iowa Review

“Dan Campion’s poems blend meter and form to steep the slow-brewed mysteries of our human condition….His poems wonder aloud and read you.”—Tim Conroy, author of Theologies of Terrain

“A Playbill for Sunset is a splendid book, one that ‘makes you look around’ with wonder ‘and leave it in splendor.’”—Joey Nicoletti, author of Fan Mail

Dan Campion was born in 1949 in Oak Park, Illinois, and grew up on the West Side of Chicago. He received an AB from the University of Chicago in 1970, held several factory jobs, then worked as an editor, and in 1975 earned an MA from the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In 1978 he moved to Iowa City, Iowa, earning a PhD in 1989 from the University of Iowa. He served as a visiting assistant professor of English there from 1991 through 1995 and worked from 1984 to 2013 as an editor for the nonprofit educational organization ACT. He is the author of Peter De Vries and Surrealism and coeditor of Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song (1981; 2nd ed. 1998; 3rd ed. 2019). His poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies since the mid-1970s.