Go by Brendan Walsh


Purchase Go at Amazon or Kelsay Books.

The newest collection from Brendan Walsh, Go (Aldrich Press) grapples with nothingness, the primal ecstasy of movement, and the variance of human consciousness and desire. The focus begins on Lao voices--those of a foreign speaker interacting with Lao monks and women planting rice, a quiet observation of an unknown but familiar place. It moves to South Korea, inhabiting the voices of two Koreans and an outsider at odds with a foreign culture. Finally, the collection ends in the United States, the former home of a speaker who feels empty but sees flashes of brilliance on road trips and in day-to-day life. Ultimately, the collection reconciles its longing with movement, finding answers outside of concrete explanations, but through the act of doing and being purely in the flesh.

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Praise for Go

Storing and releasing all kinds of humanity, both the pleasant and the difficult in properly apportioned measures, the following sums up the pathos Walsh continuously feels through these explorations of heart and hurt: “Describe yourself: broken. Describe / the world: breaking. Nothing is everything, / so this must be.” This is a rare collection whose end I hoped to delay, and whose re-beginning I cannot resist.
After the Pause
In this full-length collection, Brendan Walsh wins us the way Buddhist temples win over acolytes: with their truths about suffering, the community of prayer halls, sacred reliquaries that follow the emptiness of courtyards. This poetry grounded in the experience of place becomes animate, takes form, gathers Laos, Korea, and the U.S. in its hot dance, a globe spinning to the rhythm of the eternal divinity in each of us. The sacred mathematical formulae of Walsh’s poetry are the coordinates of the line between sin and salvation: what he crafts elevates our thoughts because it is deliciously carnal: “Changwon’s lovers are out today,/arm-body enmeshed, lying beneath/cherry trees, pink petals/spread wide and wider with warmer/weather. The earth gushes,/rain-heavy.” By taking us on the road with him, we learn that the body that travels is the body that finds its home in the world. In ‘Go,’ Walsh teaches us not to be afraid of change, or of being alone; he makes it possible for us to pick up and start over again, every chance a fresh chance, like a new life waiting to be lived.
— Lynn Marie Houston, author of The Clever Dream of Man
The proem’s last line—“I say Go.”—frees the poet from the scripted life-as-movie to life on the go. Through many journeys, through lands exotic and familiar, bars and boudoirs, rituals of sustenance and sacrament, cities and rice paddies and mountains and monasteries and airports and shacks that ‘Go’ traverses, many lives pass through Brendan Walsh’s poems, and through them, speak. Uncanny, Walsh’s ability to host his Laotian and Korean and American selves—see the Eun-Yung and Mr. Shin poems especially—through the correspondences of art that let him say, “I can’t/say you are part of me more than any bird or plane/is part sky.” Reader, don’t take my word; take the book. I say Go.
— Robert Bensen, author of Orenoque, Wetumka, and Other Poems
Brendan Walsh’s ‘Go’ is a playful collection of poems. It takes on, on many levels, the play of imagination and the play of possibility, and it explores the ways each enlarges and is enlarged by the other. The world in ‘Go’ is itself large and enlarged. In the heat of Laos, “we melt / into other forms. / First we are sweat, then hot nights, / next, the air itself.” In Korea, when the cherry trees blossom, “April comes quickly / without shame, and envelops. / We forgot winter/ like a past lover who once / formed the only shape / our words could make.” And back in the United States, flying down the interstate on a drive-all-night roadtrip, our world traveler considers how any drive may continue into “All that untouchable horizon. / Nothing to grasp but what passes us by.” ‘Go’ is an energetic and wise first collection, and its travels continue well past the final page.
— Jeffrey Mock, author of Ruthless