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American Quasar by David Campos & Maceo Montoya (artist)

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American Quasar by David Campos & Maceo Montoya (artist)

American Quasar is a visual-textual collaboration between poet David Campos and artist Maceo Montoya. What began as an exploration of the precipice of violence evolved into an excavation of self, a deep meditation on how country, family, and trauma affect the ability to love. The images and words build a poetic space where the body is understood in both physical and celestial terms, giving a spiritual dimension to the collection's larger claim that the political is personal.


"David Campos’ American Quasar is a true force of collaboration that implores a new vision of exegesis with the renowned artist, Maceo Montoya. How can we love what hurts us, and how can we love the things we hurt? Here is a speaker kneeling in reverence to a god, a lover, or a self which we can acutely love and hurt at the same time. Set in the storied landscape of the California Central Valley, this book is an indictment of what America has burned or buried, and a document of all that has nonetheless survived in the ashes: the name of a distant father, the gravity of the past on our chest. Powerfully surreal and imagistic, Campos is a necessary voice both tender and unrelenting, a voice that is both wound and salve. How fortunate we are for the gifts of poet and artist at the height of their powers."—Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, author of Centzontle

"'The apocalypse doesn’t have to be violent. // The horsemen are mirrors.' American Quasar looks in rather than out, registering the catastrophe of our times in the merest activities of our most intimate selves. It’s a book of spiritual exercises, and its ruminations are ragged, memorable, desperate prayers. Notebook-like in the intimacy of their entanglement, the lyrics and images combine in dynamic and tender reflection. Campos’ fierce, direct contemplations turn ordinary anxiety into dramatic and memorable gesture; Montoya’s subtle but searing images frame human thought as embodied activity. Both text and image remind us that we exist vibrantly in those states of ambivalence, grief, and anger that we most fear: 'What if the wreckage, / the carnage, the catastrophe, was your music?'"—Katie Peterson, author of A Piece of Good News


David Campos is the son of Mexican immigrants, a CantoMundo fellow, and the author of Furious Dusk (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015) which won the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize. His poems and other work have appeared in Prairie Schooner, the American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Queen Mob's Teahouse among many others. He teaches English at Fresno City College. 

Maceo Montoya’s paintings, drawings, and prints have been featured in exhibitions and publications throughout the country as well as internationally. He has published three works of fiction, The Scoundrel and the Optimist (2010), The Deportation of Wopper Barraza (2014), and You Must Fight Them: A Novella and Stories (2015), as well as Letters to the Poet from His Brother (2014), a hybrid book combining images, prose poems, and essays. His most recent publication is Chicano Movement for Beginners, a work of graphic nonfiction. Montoya is an associate professor in the Chicana/o Studies Department at UC Davis. More information about his work can be found at www.maceomontoya.com.

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