This Week, I Read Isabel Sobral Campos: Autobiographical Ecology

Image Credit: Debby Hudson via Unsplash

“Notebook/is language peel, summary of misunderstanding in the wastebasket where/crumpled pages sleep,” the speaker says in Isabel Sobral Campos’s chapbook of poems, Autobiographical Ecology.

The book has the feel of reading a diary. It’s equal parts confessional and listing of observations, which evoke the chaos of life in the modern world.

“I have mused over my poverty as a writer. I have mused while taking my/ clothes off &slipping into a bathtub. I have thought of Sylva Plath in her/nightgown with a flashlight pointing at a word on a wall,// ‘Beware.'” References to Plath, Ashbery and Brainard are sprinkled throughout, situating the poet within the realms of confessional poetry, Postmodernism, and collage, which is exhibited throughout Autobiographical Ecology.

Each poem feels like a new entry, building upon the narrative of the confessional poet, writing in the notebook.

“Lemons, lemon peel, sweet potatoes (as if touching pearls) and avoiding mirrors especially in the/postpartum belly//”Oh there once was//:/a woman ‘//an animal ‘//a person ‘//inside an Ashbery poem'”

The entries reveal struggles with postpartum depression, how cataloging lists and observations and poetry brings a sense of order to the speaker. It’s how she begins to make sense of what’s happening to her and around her.

Sobral Campos’s poetry is teeming with raw emotion and particularly stunning images that are redolent with sensory details. I highly recommend Autobiographical Ecology, which is available through above/ground press.


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