Skip to main content

El Dorado

In El Dorado, Peter Campion explores what it feels like to live in America right now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Splicing cell-phone chatter with translations of ancient poems, jump-cutting from traditional to invented forms, and turning his high-res lens on everything from box stores to trout streams to airport lounges, Campion renders both personal and collective experience with capacious and subtle skill.

80 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2013

Phoenix Poets



“Campion’s gifts for controlling yet spinning the illusion of lost control in a poem are prodigious.”

Carol Muske-Dukes | Los Angeles Times

“Devotion to fatherhood; an economy strained to where it almost snaps; an inheritance of venerable forms (Dantean tercets, heroic quatrains) able to handle contemporary troubles; American cities (Cleveland, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles) and the wide spaces between them; and modern media, ‘a trace / of networks’ that won’t leave us alone—from these materials Campion constructs his thoughtful, intensely memorable, and sometimes winningly exasperated third collection.”

Publishers Weekly

“Campion thinks openly and gracefully in his poetry, reckoning with the uniquely privileged state of being privileged in America right now, as well as the ethical and intellectual burden it requires of anyone who chooses to live fully aware. El Dorado wears its real and compassionate intelligence with all the alert articulation of our skin—the same skin through which Campion summons hints of ‘one molten soul inside / the finite ways skin rides the bone and bone / pulls skin across it.’”

Jonathan Farmer | Slate, Best Poetry Books of 2013

“Awash in signals—televisions, cell phones, car radios—we are distracted from the here and now. Campion roots his poems in time and place, not by tuning out those signals, but by integrating them into rich meditations on place. . . . In Campion’s poems, the speaker listens, remembers, and records. Even in liminal spaces like waiting rooms and highways, he searches for America’s ‘barely knowable soul / swift as an eel escaping the slit mesh.’”

Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Peter Campion’s El Dorado yearns for the ‘sweet barbaric closeness of our skin’ that, given the way we live among the ‘neural simmer / of wired voices’ and its ‘American everything jammed at once,’ has become increasingly difficult to find, and yet Campion does find it, and recording its patterns in fluent, fast-paced, dexterous, and formally various lines leads us back to the ‘peculiar animal impress’ of human encounter in which ‘all connection / feels possible again: another’s heat / and breath and laughter.’ Unlike much contemporary verse that mimics the noise of modern experience, Campion’s moves through it to find the deep and ancient melodies that insist on the truth and beauty of human love and friendship. El Dorado is a richly textured and provocative collection that clearly demonstrates Peter Campion is one of the most vital voices of his generation.”

Michael Collier, author of An Individual History

Table of Contents


El Dorado
Boston: Red Hair
Concourse C 
Letter from Ohio
Car Radio Near Cleveland Near Dawn
1995: The Sawtooths
Chicago: The Congress Plaza
Salt Water
Cuyahoga County: Smoke
1986: Recurring Dream
1986: The Court
Villa Sciarra: Azaleas
Over Greenland: Flight 107
Blue Figure, Dogu Period
Elegy with Television
Vermont: Blood Brook
After Baudelaire: “I Have Not Forgotten . . .”
Los Angeles River
Vermont: Gile Mountain
Indy Car


Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press