On Monday, Sept. 24, Central Lakes College will host poet Li-Young Lee as the first guest presenter of the "Verse Like Water" series produced by the English Department at CLC. Instructor Jeff Johnson, who has coordinated similar national poet readings elsewhere, said the series intends to introduce visiting poets to bring literary life to the college and community. Li-Young Lee from Chicago will read some of his poems and meet with the public at a free event from noon to 1 p.m. in Chalberg Theatre. His appearance is made possible by the Five Wings Arts Council and Legacy fund from the state of Minnesota. The English Department and Academic Affairs at CLC are co-sponsors. A brief workshop for students and writers may also be arranged during the poet's time in Brainerd.
Combining sensitivity and eloquence with a broad appeal, Li-Young Lee walks in the footsteps of Stanley Kunitz and Billy Collins as one of the United States’ most beloved poets. Playful, erotic, at times mysterious, his work describes the immanent value of everyday experience.
His collection Book of My Nights was the winner of the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award. He has lived in Chicago since 1964.
“Behind My Eyes” (2008), Publishers Weekly in a starred review said, “ . . . every line bears the weight of long meditation, sometimes even of wisdom,” and Booklist called it a “lithe and powerful new collection.” The book is accompanied by an audio CD. Lee’s awards include a 2003 Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets; the William Carlos Williams Award for the collection Book of My Nights (2001); the American Book Award for the memoir, The Winged Seed (1995); the Lamont Poetry Prize for The City in Which I Love You (1990); and the Delmore Schwartz Award for Rose (1986). He is also a recipient of the Lannan Literary and Whiting Writer’s Awards.
Li-Young Lee was born in 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents who had been exiled from China. His father, who had been Mao Zedong’s personal physician, fled China to escape persecution for Christian beliefs.
After fleeing the regime of Indonesian President Sukarno in 1959 through Hong Kong, Macau and Japan, the family settled in the United States in 1964.
Lee is the author of four books of poetry: "Behind My Eyes" (2008); "Book of My Nights" (2001); "The City in Which I Love You" (1991); and "Rose" (1986). His autobiography, "The Winged Seed: A Remembrance" (1995), has been called "a literary event -- a work of memory and myth" (Phoenix Gazette).
He is the winner of numerous awards, including the William Carlos Williams Award, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award, the Lannan Literary Award, the Whiting Writer's Award, and three Pushcart Prizes.
In a review of Lee's latest book, "Behind My Eyes," Publisher's Weekly noted, "Lee's ringing clarity and his compelling life story have brought him uncommonly loyal readers: this volume should swell their ranks."