Behind My Eyes

( 4 )

Overview

?Lee?s lyrics have a tidal sweep as he moves between the universe within and the world without.? ?Booklist, starred review

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Behind My Eyes: Poems

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Overview

“Lee’s lyrics have a tidal sweep as he moves between the universe within and the world without.” —Booklist, starred review

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Editorial Reviews

Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Accessible, enigmatic, melodic, humorous . . . profound.”
Times Union
“Luminous, deceptively simple poems.”
Harvard Review
“The conversations in Behind My Eyes beautifully speak the mind’s inquiring rhythms.”
Publishers Weekly

In this fourth collection by the popular Lee (Book of My Nights), timely immigration issues drive such poems as "Self-Help for Fellow Refugees," but Lee swiftly folds them into broader inquiries about inheritance, memory and loss: "you'll remember your life," he advises, "as a book of candles,/ each page read by the light of its own burning." Lee's late father appears in the light of his evangelical Christian beliefs, his mother and sister as cherished links to childhood. Biblical allusions enliven an otherwise spare verbal world, while aphorisms and spiritual advice strike a note reminiscent of Rumi: "Every wise child is sad.... Every wind-strewn flower is God tearing God." Rarely subtle, Lee can nevertheless be concise: every line bears the weight of long meditation, sometimes even of wisdom. "Virtues of the Boring Husband," the longest piece, is one of Lee's best: a discourse on the nature of love-ponderous but shot through with golden truths-that comes from the mouth of the sheepish partner who admits, "Whenever I talk, my wife falls asleep./ So now, when she can't sleep, I talk." Lee's ringing clarity and his compelling life story have brought him uncommonly loyal readers: this volume should swell their ranks. A CD of Lee reading many of the poems is included. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The Barnes & Noble Review
Those familiar with the work of Li-Young Lee will recognize his cultural and spiritual obsessions as well as the cast of mortal characters in his fourth collection of poems. Lee, the son of Chinese parents who immigrated to Indonesia, where his father was tortured because of his belief in Christianity, then relocated to Chicago, once again addresses aspects of the immigrant experience with poignancy and bite. In his work, childhood is a place populated with fear and soldiers; in poems like "Self-Help for Fellow Refugees," he addresses those whose "left side of the face doesn't match the right." Like Billy Collins, Lee is a master of using everyday objects -- in this case, doors, birds, apples, lakes, trains, and books recur frequently -- to dive from the surface of daily life into the deepest realms of the spirit. In this collection, he is particularly concerned with mortality, family, and the frustration of translating particular emotions and experiences into language that anyone can understand. In a poem to a lover, he writes, "You were happy with two rooms, and a door to divide them" while several pages later, he says of himself, "My favorite door opens two ways: receiving and receiving." But he's self aware enough to find the humor in his constant quest for a working theory of the universe. In "Virtues of a Boring Husband," he goes on an extended riff about the ladder that connects love with the divine, sure in the knowledge that the exercise is a surprisingly effective tool in putting his wife to sleep. In "To Hold," he concludes, "So we're dust. In the meantime, my wife and I make the bed." For those who remember his wife, Donna, as the young lover in his first collection of poems, "Rose," published in 1986, it provides a certain amount of reassurance, whatever end of Lee's metaphorical train one might be on. As he puts it: "one of us witnessed what kept vanishing / while the other watched what continually emerged." --Amy Benfer
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393334814
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/6/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 108
  • Sales rank: 531,942
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Li-Young Lee was born in 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesia. His verse has earned numerous honors, including a Lannan Literary Award and an American Book Award. Lee lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2012

    Gorgeous writing

    Beautiful writing; a must own

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    Hauntingly Beautiful

    This is poetry that will stay in your mind long after you're done reading it. The imagery is so strong it makes you shiver.
    A must for aficionados of contemporary poetry. Highly recommended for everyone-even those who don't usually read poetry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2011

    Wonderful

    A true modern day masterpiece.

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    Wonderful poetry

    Lee's poetry is raw and visceral- it reaches down into that place that good poetry touches and twists...

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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