This powerful new work by Bruce Weigl follows the celebrated poet and Vietnam War veteran as he explores combat, survival, and PTSD in brief prose vignettes.
In compact, transcendent, and poetic prose, Bruce Weigl chronicles somber observations on the present day alongside painful memories of the war. Reflections on school shootings and the lightning-fast spread of news in the 21st century are set alongside elegies for forgotten soldiers and the lifelong struggle of waiting for the trauma of war to fade. Haunting and nuanced, Among Elms, in Ambush carries readers through meditations and medications, past the shapes of figures in the dark rice fields of Viet Nam and the milkweed pods in the frost-covered fields of Ohio, toward a hard-won determination to survive.
“Few books transfix me. This book did. Among Elms, in Ambush is a ghostly, mysterious, sometimes angry, mostly loving, and always masterly work of art, poetry mapped by prose, prose elevated by a poet's ear for the music of articulation. Bruce Weigl's accomplishment, if it can be described at all, struck me with the force of a prolonged and vivid dream, one moment terrifying, the next moment celebrative or indignant or regretful. The book is infused with history—Weigl’s own, America's own yet there is nothing merely topical in these pages, unless Dante's dizzying, breathtaking Inferno can be read as topical.”
—Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried
Praise for Bruce Weigl’s On the Shores of Welcome Home
“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
“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.’”
—Yusef Komunyakaa, author of Neon Vernacular
"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
“Weigl always finds the lyric pulse, a flame of our moment.”
—Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic