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Thinking Its PresenceForm, Race, and Subjectivity in Contemporary Asian American Poetry$
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Dorothy J. Wang

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780804783651

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804783651.001.0001

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Metaphor, Desire, and Assimilation in the Poetry of Li-Young Lee

Metaphor, Desire, and Assimilation in the Poetry of Li-Young Lee

(p.48) Two Metaphor, Desire, and Assimilation in the Poetry of Li-Young Lee
Thinking Its Presence

Dorothy J. Wang

Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the work of arguably the most well-known Asian American poet writing today, Li-Young Lee. This chapter considers what makes Lee’s poetry so desirable to mainstream non-Asian American audiences by examining the rhetorical trope of metaphor, whose nature instantiates the Romantic sensibility that permeates his four books of poetry. That said, the chapter leaves open two questions: first, whether both the tendency of metaphors to reify abstract ideas and feelings into concrete images and the Romantic transcendental tendencies of Lee’s poetry encourage readers to reify Lee’s metaphors and his poetry itself, as ’poetic’ nuggets of ethnic immigrant experience, without having to grapple with more specific, material, and difficult immigrant and racial histories and realities; and second, whether critics’ and readers’ own tendencies and desires to read in such depoliticized ways limit the more interventionary potential of Lee’s poetic form, specifically his use of metaphor.

Keywords:   metaphor, desire, assimilation, poetry, Li-Young Lee

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