Reading: Li-Young Lee

My latest order from Amazon came in the mail yesterday. It was for 3 new books, all by one of my favorite poets, Li-Young Lee. The books are Rose, the city in which i love you, and Book of My Nights. I’ve read most of the poems individually. It’ll be nice to have them all together in their proper volumes.

I first read Lee in an American Lit class a few years ago. We read “Persimmons” and “This Room and Everything in It.” Both poems talk about his father, which was something I needed to see. I didn’t know how to write about people close to me at that point (and have only improved this skill marginally). I learned from him not to try too hard to write about someone. Don’t force a theme based on a personality trait. Just write about them honestly and simply. Write about instances that may seem insignificant. It’s in the little glances at a person that we see the big ideas.

His use of language is another remarkable feature. His diction is simple and straightforward , but don’t let this fool you into thinking that the poems are simplistic. Easy words form complex metaphors.

I could probably continue writing about him, but I want to get to reading these books. Here is a video of Li-Young Lee reading for UC-Berkeley’s Lunch Poems program:

Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight.
” -from “Persimmons”

p.s. In other book news, I ordered the Poets Laureate Anthology from Barnes & Noble the same day; it finally shipped this morning. I’m mildly annoyed, but it was free to me because I had a gift card (not entirely free…gift card for $25; priced at $27.68, so I paid $2.68)