“We don’t think it makes sense. We dream of our cousins in trees…” That’s what Brendan Walsh does in this provocative collection of brief poems. He dreams of bonobos as natural sages—unlike the Buddha, their “legs just fold that way”—who share their wisdom with the ever-restless humans (“our world’s torment”). In the second part of the volume, Walsh’s dreams extend beyond bonobos to people whose uncommon lives lead to alternative takes on fundamental issues: a monk who has seen it all, a cult member (“Consider, though, one stretch … without thought, questions”), ancient wanderers turning experience into myth, a Jain starving himself to death, and more. Welcome surprises, and possible truths, abound.
—Tracy Duvall, Bonobo!
“These beautiful poems interrogate the central paradox of a life infinitely complex and utterly singular. “There is no single sound” says one poem; this tender, sensual and spiritual collection examines not simply the human condition, but the condition of the whole natural world, in conversation with its history and with its potential futures.”
—Andrew McMillan, Physical, Winner of the Guardian First Book Award
“A gorgeous scene of felt experience, of the body’s pulsing, desirous nature, and the world’s abundance. Because bonobos are not weighted by language (“they learn faces, feet, palms, kindness, not names”), they can slip between the moments of the day without fuss, without crossing the arbitrary boundaries that pervade human experience.”
—Joe McCarthy, globalcitizen.org
“In the poetic spirit of Hieronymus Bosch, who paints depictions of the human masses wriggling with the depravity that is the human condition, Brendan Walsh in Buddha vs Bonobo gives us a more serene, more successful “garden of earthly delights.” Here we find kind, gentle creatures—his vision of humanity as, or in contrast to, bonobo chimpanzees—populating the branches of fruit trees, bountiful in their provision. Here we find a life where existence is rooted in the senses—I eat; therefore, I am—I lust; therefore, I am—where the pure of heart win the world, not through civilization or development, but through the simplicity of their days.”
—Lynn Houston, The Clever Dream of Man