Poetry by Ed Bok Lee
March 5, 2019 • 6 x 9 • 88 pages • 978-1-56689-532-3
Poems that trace paths through time, genealogy, and geography, locating the generational legacy of history.
From Mitochondrial Night:
he explained, in the tradition
so the ancestors won't be so lonely.
Because spirits need us
more than we need them.
And for hours
they’ll listen to anyone
About the Author
Ed Bok Lee is the author of Whorled (Coffee House Press) and a recipient of a 2012 American Book Award and the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry. Lee is the son of North and South Korean emigrants—his mother originally a refugee from what is now North Korea; his father was raised during the Japanese colonial period and Korean War in what is now South Korea. Lee grew up in South Korea, North Dakota, and Minnesota, and was educated there and on both U.S. coasts, Russia, South Korea, and Kazakhstan. He teaches at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Other honors include the Asian American Literary Award (Members’ Choice Award) and a PEN Open Book Award.
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“Like mitochondrion, from whence this exhilarating book’s title comes, the poet’s eye and spirit are ubiquitous, examining and probing the tangled bloodlines of our social and political networks, and the parasitic heft we are exerting on the world’s chest. Formally protean and polyphonic, the poems change shapes and registers in a thrilling and often poignant chase after their truth. Ed Bok Lee’s Mitochondrial Night is a thrilling book by a gifted poet at the height of his powers.” —Khaled Mattawa
“In Mitochondrial Night, Ed Bok Lee takes us on an intimate journey through space and time, introduces us to people and places we have and have not met, to center us in our humblest humanity. Lee is a shaman, he rides with his pen into the vast darkness of our pasts, centers us in our present, and then makes the fearless leap into the imagined, the predestined future. He looks to raise from the dead the spirits of wars lost, wars long forgotten, the wars being waged now, and he does so with a light, lonely hand. This collection is explosive; it shatters the boundaries of self in the service of art.” —Kao Kalia Yang
Praise for Ed Bok Lee
“There is a nomadic beauty to Ed Bok Lee’s Whorled, which pulses with raw political anger and vital lyricism.” —The Guardian
“These poems work in powerful concert to give body to an entire world of beauty, terror, loss, grief, and joy. The strength and magnetism of Lee’s voice come from his mind’s profound awareness of a person’s embeddedness in a context simultaneously personal and archetypal; social, historical, political, and cosmic.” —Li-Young Lee