Stephen Kampa’s World Too Loud to Hear is a book about America’s “slow-motion, decades-long cascade / of violence . . .”—gun violence by and against children, violence of tech-driven accelerating change, and violence that permeates almost every aspect of our online lives. These amazing poems manage to be at once outraged and witty, inventive and passionate, nuanced and blunt. I can’t think of another book that captures so completely the lunatic reality of self-destruction. Stephen Kampa is fabulous poet, and this is a fabulous and important book.
—Alan Shapiro, author of Proceed to Check Out and Against Translation
Stephen Kampa’s World Too Loud to Hear takes on the noise of the twenty-first century with a furious love and attention. The poems in this book lay out our terrible addictions—to gun violence, to scientism, to screens, to empty celebrity, to social division, to anger itself. But they also show us what remains worth saving from those evils: children, magic, and mystery. These poems delight equally in novel syllabic stanzas, calm iambics, and drumming accentuals, and they ratchet up poetic form to the tension of a crossbow, with the same deadly aim. They use change-up rhyme patterns, sonics, wordplay, and narrative drama to keep us tumbling forward, through etymology and child abuse, homage and political hackery, near-despair and struggling faith. And they often arrive at the sort of poetic closure that makes a reader freeze and gasp.
—Maryann Corbett, author of In Code and Street View
Juggling Horatian and Juvenalian satire with surgical wit and polemical yet coy imbalances, Stephen Kampa’s speakers are the needling social critics, cultural anthropologists, and litigator-jesters. I have not read a collection of poetry that better tackles social injustices and apathies, gun violence, religious hypocrisy, climate change, and our subservience to technology. Kampa shows us ourselves: combing the Almighty WebMD to wrangle with our psychosomatic homunculi, constructing our digital personae and elevating our experiences to impress other inflated personae, and being lured into divisiveness by cartoonish political buffoonery. In this World Too Loud to Hear, Kampa reminds us through his maw-opening critiques and funhouse mirrors that we have lost our benevolence and are becoming untethered from the one objective truth from which we humans can find insights: the natural world.
—Adam Vines, author of Lures and Out of Speech