Winner of the Isabella Gardner Award
In this Isabella Gardner Award-winning collection of poems, Bruce Weigl meditates on the ghosts and the grace one encounters in life’s second act. A celebrated poet and veteran of the Vietnam War, Weigl offers a nuanced sense of aging as a departure and death as a returning home. With a sage’s eye for mindfulness and a soldier’s longing for the country where he served, Weigl’s poems reveal the long scars left by Vietnam and the new possibilities one encounters in the wake of life-altering experiences.
“Weigl’s personal reckoning with trauma is juxtaposed against the title poem’s polemic against war, a lengthy plea for empathy and tolerance that establishes war, police brutality, mass shootings, and anti-immigrant sentiments as intricately connected through a web of violence Americans have been taught to accept as necessary.”
“All of Bruce Weigl's poems are of high quality and all should be purchased for any collection of literature dealing with the Vietnam War.”
—The VVA Veteran
“Bruce Weigl’s On the Shores of Welcome Home deals with life and death matters, embracing earthy questions but always sighting a bead of true light. The mind and flesh of the soldier, of the survivor, of the seeker is laid bare as brotherly love. Weigl is always in at least two worlds at once—present and past; here and beyond. He poses questions of motion and emotion without easy Western answers. In fact, there’s nothing in this map of naked truths that’s easy. And, at times, this speaker of lyric reckoning holds himself accountable for the moments he said ‘I dare you.’ That is, On the Shores of Welcome Home underscores how we are indeed connected—responsible for and to each other. This collection pinpoints days and nights of everyday life under fire, with penetrating grace notes.”
—Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
“Few poets of any generation have written so searingly of the trauma of war, inscribing its wound while refusing the fragile suture of redemption. In this and in the breadth of his accomplishment, Bruce Weigl is one of the most important poets of our time.”
—Carolyn Forché, author of What You Have Heard is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance
"'I don’t think it’s my place to breathe, Mr. Night.,' writes Bruce Weigl, while giving us a sweeping, beautiful collection of poems that breathes deeply as it takes us from Ha Noi to Ohio via elegies and lyrics that are urgent and unsparing in their clarity ('no one / even sees you / standing there in your sixty-two years, soldier'). I opened this book on the beautiful poem, 'The Ineffable as Sad,' and was immediately hooked: in this time of crisis, even in his own uncertainties ('a sky in my head tonight...I don't know what it wants'), Weigl always finds the lyric pulse, a flame of our moment."
—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic and Dancing in Odessa
“Bruce Weigl’s unique verbal music is a song indivisible from its experiential roots. Events of childhood in the industrial Midwest, of young manhood flung unwitting into another land and culture, of the years of ongoing pain, of rare joy, of striving and illumination, are one fabric, not episodic.”
- Pulitzer Prize