The opening salvo of jangly guitar licks on “Ex Post Facto,” from Chris Campion’s new EP, is so arresting, practically spellbinding, it raises the question of the extent to which pure sound, at once propulsive, insistent, and melancholy, can be a character in a 4-minute- and-50-second rock ’n’ roll tale. Instrumentals can of course call to mind all manner of emotions, but what about embodying, say, futility, or striving, or loss? Any one of those could be standing over your shoulder as the disc spins.
Should you pick up the new Southampton Review expecting familiar contributors, you’d be right and wrong. First of all, who’s going to complain about opening a journal to more poems, four of them, by Billy Collins? That star of versification known for a peerless sense of humor is here contemplative — digging up an old toy truck in his backyard and thinking of the past, or pondering the oddity of the writing life.