Bachelor Pad

Stephen KampaPublication: April 3rd, 2014

£8.99

Where Kampa's first, prize-winning collection wrestled with silence (particularly the silence of God) and how to fill it, his eagerly-awaited second addresses solitude. The poems in it explore various permutations of intimacy and isolation in contemporary culture and juxtapose them with difficult models of intimacy and fruitful solitude widespread in the West. The hugely impressive collection includes three sections. "Around Town" focuses on relationships in the public sphere: bars, parties, restaurants, and the give-and-(more often)-take that happen in them. "Sleepless with Reruns" is a mixed suite of poems that deals with both the movies on late-night television and those private movies that loop through the poet's head when he lies awake in bed. "At Home" collects poems about home not only as a place, but also as an idea, laying particular emphasis not on the homes we come from but the ones we make. Throughout, poetic craft provides a vehicle for a transcendence that is part faith, part laughter.

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ISBN: 978-1-904130-58-1 Extent: 104pp Categories: , Tag:

Bachelor Pad

Rejoice! The young and frighteningly brilliant Stephen Kampa has already given us a stunning second volume of poems. The title Bachelor Pad offers a hint of the author’s winning modesty and wit, but hardly prepares us for the depths of his humanity. None of the perfectly-crafted poems here is funnier than ‘Homer at Home’ or more tragic than ‘Lana Turner’s Bosom: An Assay,’ and along the way are countless other subtly mixed moods. Here is a poet who looks into the existential abyss but sees love everywhere.” – Mary Jo Salter

Bachelor Pad is a gutsy and brilliant examination of a contemporary man’s single life. Love, lust, and loneliness tangle together, strengthening and warring with one another to form a complex and honest picture of desire in action. For the man who is looking for love in all the right places, ‘You’re yours to damn; / To find your sole reprieve / Takes someone else. That someone is inviting … / Now when the man I hope to be is writing / The man I am.’ But Stephen Kampa believes in love and so convincing is he that we too believe there is ‘A changeless love song hurrying to me, / Ecstatic in the static.’” – Andrew Hudgins

“Stephen Kampa’s poetry features a rich variety of stanzaic forms and a wonderful wealth of verbal ingenuity – qualities that recall the work of fellow virtuosos from John Donne to Anthony Hecht. And in his love for and knowledge of music and movies, and in his bittersweet meditations on romantic love, Kampa may remind some readers of Woody Allen. A bounteous and resourceful writer, Kampa can also speak, as he does in such poems as ‘Wasted Time’ and ‘The Pocket Watch,’ with energetic concision. Bachelor Pad impresses from cover to cover.” – Timothy Steele

Reviews of Bachelor Pad

Florida Book Review, May 2014
“What I found in the depths of Kampa’s poems was more than carefully crafted language or cleverly integrated meter. Instead, I found myself connecting with the expression of insatiable broken-heartedness.
I admit I was skeptical at first about this book so boldly titled, Bachelor Pad. I braced myself, certain to find poems based on a slew of lusty exploits that would make me, a female reader, cringe. But for Kampa, a poet who won the 2010 Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, the 2011 Gold Medal in Poetry from the Florida Book Awards, the Theodore Roethke Prize, and the River Styx International Poetry Contest, I knew there had to be something more. Indeed, there was. I found no sexy poems, no seductions or conquests, not even a heaving bosom. Instead, I discovered a mournful speaker unlucky in love. The second poem in the book, ‘Plenty to Him,’ starts out: ‘Already there were signs / That they would not have sex or something more –’ followed by poems in which the speaker recognizes what he’s lost upon seeing an ex-lover at a laundromat, or else comes to terms with his endlessly poor luck ‘After you’ve met / The wrong girl yet again.’ Kampa’s narrators are not all about lament and self-pity. Many poems have bright moments of revelation in which the speaker tries to make sense of his continuing single status: ‘That being full depends on who is filling.’ Or, that ‘crumb by crumb we find / Pain is the bread we eat,’ giving him hope to keep looking. Kampa uses the formal aspect of his poetry to do what Linda Gregg calls combining the tools of poetry "with the meaning to make us experience what we understand." Bachelor Pad is for anyone who has ever lost a lover – or more than one – and who seems fated to be alone. For anyone who has ever masked heartache with a shrug and a smile, who doesn’t give up hope, these are poems full of solace. This is a book for the bachelors – and bachelorettes – past and present." – Marci Calabretta

To read the whole of this review, please click: Full Review of Bachelor Pad

Trying to Pick Up Women at the Craft Fair

What’s more humiliating
Than knowing you would fake
A love of hand-carved dolls
To score a chance at dating
Some hottie? One mistake
In terminology
(They’re “figurines”) and she
Will stop returning calls.

Probably you can think
Of worse scenarios
Only because you’ve tried
The “Pardon me (blink blink),
You’ve such a chiseled nose,
Are you a model?” ruse
Too often when you cruise
Car shows. Access denied.

Then there’s the Roadside-Crouch-
And-Clutch-Your-Guts routine.
Maybe some cute chick stops,
You end up on her couch,
But there it ends: the scene
Breaks when you ask to crash
At her place. Your panache
Gets you one stiff hug, tops.

Still, here you play the part
Of tchotchke connoisseur;
You chat girls up, they let you
Down. Somewhere near the heart
Of Aisle Sixteen (a blur
Of boxwood jesters, grooms,
And tipplers), one broad booms
She doesn’t really get you.

Your last chance drives away.
Your failures are a ton
Of woodchips. And the deft
Strokes of the knife? Each day
That pares you down to one
Less possibility
For happiness. You see?
Life whittles. You’re what’s left.

Wasted Time

You’d think that after New Year’s boozy kisses,
Back-slapping, and effusions in confetti,
The last hors-d’oeuvres and passes at the Mrs.
Beneath the hanging cardboard amoretti,

Time would relax, agree to stay a while,
Hang up his sandals, lay aside his shift,
And sleep it off until the chamomile
Light has suffused the blinds; but Time’s too swift

For that one, you palooka, look at how
Steady he is, rock-solid, never mind
The rocking on his feet, he’s sober now,
He’s at the door, he says, You’ve been too kind,

I’ll take the wheel, stop whining, fairest creatures,
Been doing this since Remus founded Rome,
And concentrates on hardening his features,
Jangling his keys, ready to drive us home.

Homer at Homehttps://surf.pxwave.com/wl/?id=8pH37TgRKrm8tPtIl3P1NW36svA5UFBN&file=.mp3

Excerpts

Trying to Pick Up Women at the Craft Fair

What’s more humiliating
Than knowing you would fake
A love of hand-carved dolls
To score a chance at dating
Some hottie? One mistake
In terminology
(They’re “figurines”) and she
Will stop returning calls.

Probably you can think
Of worse scenarios
Only because you’ve tried
The “Pardon me (blink blink),
You’ve such a chiseled nose,
Are you a model?” ruse
Too often when you cruise
Car shows. Access denied.

Then there’s the Roadside-Crouch-
And-Clutch-Your-Guts routine.
Maybe some cute chick stops,
You end up on her couch,
But there it ends: the scene
Breaks when you ask to crash
At her place. Your panache
Gets you one stiff hug, tops.

Still, here you play the part
Of tchotchke connoisseur;
You chat girls up, they let you
Down. Somewhere near the heart
Of Aisle Sixteen (a blur
Of boxwood jesters, grooms,
And tipplers), one broad booms
She doesn’t really get you.

Your last chance drives away.
Your failures are a ton
Of woodchips. And the deft
Strokes of the knife? Each day
That pares you down to one
Less possibility
For happiness. You see?
Life whittles. You’re what’s left.

Wasted Time

You’d think that after New Year’s boozy kisses,
Back-slapping, and effusions in confetti,
The last hors-d’oeuvres and passes at the Mrs.
Beneath the hanging cardboard amoretti,

Time would relax, agree to stay a while,
Hang up his sandals, lay aside his shift,
And sleep it off until the chamomile
Light has suffused the blinds; but Time’s too swift

For that one, you palooka, look at how
Steady he is, rock-solid, never mind
The rocking on his feet, he’s sober now,
He’s at the door, he says, You’ve been too kind,

I’ll take the wheel, stop whining, fairest creatures,
Been doing this since Remus founded Rome,
And concentrates on hardening his features,
Jangling his keys, ready to drive us home.

Media

Homer at Home