[a go] by Gabrielle Joy Lessans
published November 2022
perfect bound trade paperback
7.5 x 9.25 inches, 87 pages
Press Release: [a_go]_downloadable_press_release.pdf
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Praise for [a go] :
Thinking & feeling through open-field composition, and by sounding the depths & complexities residing within ellipsis, grammatical prepositions, and further intersections of syntax & time—like the knots of a net seeking to catch the wind—[a go] takes its place in the Objectivist line of poetics. [a go] is shot-through with a sense of multiple crises, of the subject pressed to the limit, but finding precisely at that limit the secret of lyric: “I // is enough // lonely // as: a”
The world as habitable and constitutive of human flourishing may be passing away—is it already gone, or never was—and [a go] is haunted by this crisis of era of ecological disappearance: “I saw cities turn to sand dunes once at // once all // atoms.” The text of these poems often approach total atomization, yet strain, and hold together as constellations of affect, sensuous perception, documents of a vernacular now, and the traces of experience of embodied mind. [a go] is a book of beautiful straining pitched into the rough passage of the world.
—Jeffrey Pethybridge, author of Striven, The Bright Treatise
[a go] ’s philosophical and spatial logic is akin to a game of go, in which the placement of a stone marks both a boundary and a new universe of possibility. Lessans’ stones—syllables, words, vocables, sounds—cascade down the page, accumulating into shapes you swear you’ve seen before, uncanny and elemental. She asks, “do you think we could be / any kind of / us / these days,” a question tinged with hope and melancholy: that’s what’s at work in this book, an open-hearted embrace of opposites, of the All. Another paradox at play is the way the physical world expresses the immaterial, a metaphysics composed of blisters and moss and salt. Which reminds me: [a go] is full with a palpable love for the earth. And for kinship. Lessans guides us through it all, in a swerving, breathing text which is a delight to the eye and mind. Read it, go on, get “hot // in the pausing.”
—Ryan Mihaly, author of B-Flat Clarinet Fingering Chart
Lessans traverses the full page, using page breaks, white space, enjambment, and concrete shapes in exciting new ways. She goes beyond traditional line and structure, creating and embodying an exciting form of her own invention, one that’s a pleasure to follow along for the ride as it twists and turns its path across pages and binding. I read the whole thing in one go, [ a go ], unable to put it down, relishing the dizzying effect. . . . The shifts between each piece are so seamless, the carefully whittled meandering so subtly directed, that it makes me wonder if the poems were written in chronological order. They don’t feel like they end (or begin); they just morph into what comes next. This in media res could be disorienting upon first encountering an individual poem outside the context of the whole, but they all flow together so well that [ a go ] can be read as one long poem.
—Jesica Davis, “Review: [ a go ] by Gabrielle Joy Lessans,” Fissured Tongue, vol. 4
Gabrielle Joy Lessans discusses [a go] with rob mclennan on his blog, September 10, 2022.