Friday, April 13, 2018

L is for Li-Young Lee: Lyrical Loneliness

It's April! Time for the AtoZ Blogging Challenge!

For those who haven't played along before, the AtoZ Blogging Challenge asks bloggers to post every day during April (excepting Sundays), which works out to 26 days, one for each letter of the alphabet. In my opinion, it's the most fun if you choose a theme.

This will be my 5th year participating.
My theme this year is Poets I Love all about some of the poets whose work has touched me over the years.

For my regular readers, you'll see more than the usual once-a-week posts from me this month. I'm having a great time writing them, so I hope you enjoy reading them, too. Be sure to check out some of the other bloggers stretching their limits this month to share their passions with you, too. With over 600 participants, there is bound to be something you'd love to read.

Li-Young Lee earned his place in my pantheon of poets with The City in Which I Love You, which is both the title of a poem and of one of his collections.

I found this collection during my searching years: my early twenties. A time when I didn't yet know what I wanted, but was starting to understand what I did not want out of life. A time when I sought strange horizons to explore, the better to find myself contrasted in unfamiliar surroundings.

I was romantically lonely, even while with friends, in the same way Lee's poetry was.

Lee's poems pull from both the personal and the political to give a vision of a wanderer seeking home. I'm drawn in by the yearning of the poems, because there's an echo of it in my own heart, still, even now that I am older and much more settled. His work touches the melancholy in me, without dragging me down into depression or burning me in anger. 

Immigrant Blues: 


Re-reading his poems now, it is the pathos of these narrative moments that strikes me. The directness, the seemingly emotionless uncolored and stark portrayal of painful moments, made that much more powerful by understatement. Amazing. 

1 comment:

  1. I like his directness. I would've read his works too in my 20s if I had discovered him then.