Flee is a mode of being and of making, one that moves from Detroit, to Paris, to Brooklyn, Hargeisa, and back, with a hybrid of warring energies— the lyrical, theoretical, political, and surreal—to innovate and interrogate both form and content in surpassing the actual. Flee seeks to find something else, maybe soft grass to lie on. With prose and photographs, Flee engages memories of travel in their physical, affective, and relational dimensions and reflects on Aaliyah, drones, Levinas, and Bushwick along the way. Flee is a chronicle and a poetics.
"Flee moves deftly between the personal and the critical, the pop and the academic, to explore how types of captivity replicate themselves across time and space. “Longing is my political apparatus,” writes Walds, “I still dance in the mirror. I think people still wonder why we don’t just accept the world?” Rather than “braid” or “collage” subjects, Calvin Walds uses an immersive, essayistic structure that asks Adorno to converse with Aaliyah and moves our viewfinder seamlessly from Detroit to Paris to Bushwick to Hargeisa to Brooklyn. Across the book, moments of seeing and being seen shift the traditional connection between writer and reader as Walds reminds the audience that they are not the only ones who are looking: “I am watching Musa Okwonga’s performance of The Migrant Manifesto,” “I keep pausing I Don't Want to Sleep Alone by Tsai Ming Liang to take screenshots.” Flee is performing and also doubtful of escape. The book cranes our necks to see what could be on the other side."
—Sarah Minor, 2020 Split/Lip Press Nonfiction/Hybrid Contest judge