Lee (Homecomings) unites a selection of work from “old favorites” and poems he feels he has “neglected” in this cohesive and lyrical collection. Classic themes—such as love, pain and suffering, and religion—unfold amid vivid word imagery and profound symbolism, enveloping readers in a mix of “self and other, just as the present mixes with the past and any number of hoped-for futures.” Lee provides glimpses of a writer at work through the filter of time in this massive tome, packing a multitude of meaning into dramatic inflection and phrasing while challenging readers to open the wounds caused by being human.
Lee’s collected work shares elements of intensity and raw human experiences, from the powerful imagery of fixating on breast cancer scars during lovemaking in “Backrub,” to the merciless hard labor sentences of immigrants in “The Way Home.” He divulges his discovery of “how blood waters the earth/ how flesh is food and death” and reveals penetrating feelings of isolation and loneliness, making the selected writings read like a fragmented biography told through scenes of the author’s life. “Homecoming” presents as an homage to finding purpose through love - “I am caught in the hall of mirrors husband and wife become/ bound to the urban streetweb where only earthquakes/ remind us the world is real... here is my ocean, fog, light; my stone, my earth, my self/ my flight.”
Though the sheer amount of work presented causes feelings of repetition, Lee’s stunning writing about the natural world and bold descriptions of collective and fundamental experiences is enough to keep readers returning for more. Occasional black-and-white illustrations contextualize the works. Both returning and new readers will savor Lee’s compilation of work in various formats. This compendium will appeal to those who enjoy classic literature as well as poetry about archetypal themes.
Takeaway: This impressive collection organically mixes poetry, prose, and nonfiction and will appeal to thoughtful readers of classic literature and 20th-century verse.
Great for fans of Walt Whitman, Robert Lowell.
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Marketing copy: B