“Li-Young Lee’s poetry — immediate, sensual, unrelentingly intense — demands that the reader attend right now to what’s at hand.”
Celebrated poet Li-Young Lee returns with a breathtaking new volume about the violence of desire and the peace of love.
The Undressing is a tonic for spiritual anemia; it attempts to uncover things hidden since the dawn of the world. These mysterious, unassuming poems investigate the human violence and dispossession increasingly prevalent around the world, as well as the horrors of growing up as a child of refugees. Lee draws from disparate sources, including the Old Testament, the Dao De Jing, and the music of the Wu Tang Clan. While the subjects of these layered, impassioned poems are wide-ranging, their driving engine is a burning need to understand our collective human mission. Read the title poem from The Undressing online.
Li-Young Lee was born in Djakarta, Indonesia in 1957 to Chinese political exiles. Both of Lee’s parents came from powerful families: Lee’s great grandfather was the first president of the Republic of China, and Lee’s father had been the personal physician to Mao Zedong. In Indonesia, anti-Chinese sentiment resulted in Dr. Lee’s yearlong detention as a political prisoner. After his release, the Lee family fled, arriving in the United States in 1964, eventually settling in Vandergrift, PA. Lee began writing poems as student at the University of Pittsburgh, where he studied with Gerald Stern.
“There are great poems that have flaws. There are failures of perception, failures of understanding, but those flaws become a part of the poem’s integrity, so I still feel that those poems are descendants of God.”
Young’s books will be available for sale from our local bookseller Classic Lines.