Li-Young Lee evokes a coming-of-age between two cultures through the three of the most intimate aspects of cultural identity––food, family, and language.
Excerpt from Persimmons, by Li-Young Lee
Persimmon, in Li-Young Lee’s poem, is both a food and a word: an English word for a Chinese food, a product of two cultures much like the speaker of the poem. The poem tracks a coming-of-age tale through an associative logic, bringing together the feeling of foreignness in an elementary school classroom, connecting with a first love, and caring for an aging parent through the motif of the persimmon.
"Li-Young Lee was born in Djakarta, Indonesia in 1957 to Chinese political exiles. Both of Lee’s parents came from powerful Chinese families." "Influenced by the classical Chinese poets Li Bo and Tu Fu, Lee’s poetry is noted for its use of silence and, according to Alex Lemon in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, its “near mysticism” which is nonetheless “fully engaged in life and memory while building and shaping the self from words.” Though sometimes described as a supremely lyric poet, Lee’s poems often use narrative and personal experience or memories to launch their investigations of the universal." Excerpt from the Poetry Foundation Bio
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