March 14, 2002
COLLEGEVILLE, Minn - The Literary Arts Institute of the College of Saint Benedict is sponsoring Li-Young Lee, poet and artist, who will be in residence at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University on Thursday, April 4 and Friday, April 5. Lee will read from his new book, Book of My Nights, at 7:30 p.m. April 4, in Quadrangle room 264, on the SJU campus. The reading is free and open to the public.
Lee was born in 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesia, of Chinese parents. Book of My Nights, released by Boa Editions, is Lee's third book of poetry. His lyrical poetry fuses memory, family, culture and history. In simple and powerful language, the poems work individually and as a full sequence meditation on the vulnerability of humanity.
Rose, Lee's first book, was published in 1986 and his second, The City in Which I Love You, in 1990. The Winged Seed: A Remembrance (Simon & Schuster, 1995) is a lyrical memoir that chronicles both Lee's youth and the history of his mother, the daughter of Chinese royalty, and his father, the former physician to Mao Tse-Tung. Both fled the political turmoil in China in the '50s only to be persecuted in Indonesia for their Christian beliefs. Between 1959 and 1964, the Lee family traveled in Hong Kong, Macau and Japan, until arriving in America.
Lee studied at the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Arizona and the State University of New York, College at Brockport. He has taught at various universities, including Northwestern University and the University of Iowa. Lee has received several honors for his poetry, including grants from the Illinois Arts Council, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1989, he was awarded a fellowship by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and in 1988, he was the recipient of a Writer's Award from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. Lee received New York University's Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award for Rose, and The City in Which I Love You was the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets.
In a conversation with Amy Pence, published in the November/December 2001 edition of Poets and Writers, Lee discussed the spiritual nature of his poetry. "The body is spirit, too", said Lee. "For me, there is no materiality to apparent materiality. In our bodies, three billion cells a minute are dying and being reborn. So our bodies look solid, but they aren't. So everything's an illusion. That's why I think that the business or the mission of art is disillusionment. To make us see the double nature of reality - that is both material and spirit."
The Literary Arts Institute is an expression of the College of Saint Benedict's deep and abiding commitment to the written word. Since its founding, the College has embraced the distinctive values of the liberal and fine arts, with writing at its center. The Literary Arts Institute celebrates the College's heritage, rich in the humanities and fine arts, by promoting the work of the best contemporary writers and giving voice to new and emerging writers.
For more information, go to http://www.csbsju.edu/literary-arts-institute or contact Mark Conway at 320-363-5399.
This event is partially funded by a grant from The Teagle Foundation.
The College of Saint Benedict for women and Saint John's University for men are partners in liberal arts education, providing students the opportunity to benefit from the distinctions of not one, but two nationally recognized Catholic, Benedictine, residential undergraduate colleges. Together, the colleges challenge students to live balanced lives of learning, work, leadership and service in a coeducational environment.