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Asian American literature and the exploratory self in the early poems of Li-Young Lee

English Abstract

My main topic question is to answer: how Lee creates a poem that is constituted in relation to historical and material differences but also includes the materials of his own life experiences that disallows itself to be read as a Chinese poem. A Chinese poem is a poem that has references to Chinese memory, or any item such as food, or fruit that is Chinese. I want to show that Lee undermines Mrs. Walker’s dominance in the poem “Persimmons” by using a technique that allows him to go in every direction escaping the confinement of Mrs. Walker’s clear-cut line where Asia is understood as a subordinate term that is un-equal for comparison. Differing from showing any fixation of idea about a Chinese fruit in the poem that misrepresents, the irony being that the particular fixation of idea has been included as part of the fluid flow of a poem that disallows itself to be understood it in its own term, Lee presents a world with Chinese references that makes them the necessity of the content that the poetic technique connects together. Therefore, the technique presents a world of experience that branches out and creates a space, without the beauty of the form of a poem, any references that points to the information of Chinese culture or any social historical experience would be easily discarded as a poem that either subverts without literary credit or a poem that informs the readers about his Chinese heritage. None of these say enough of a Lee poem.

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Yu, Li Hong


Faculty of Arts and Humanities


Department of English




Lee, Li Young, -- 1957-

Poets, American -- 20th century -- Criticism and interpretation


Appler, Gilbert Keith

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