Ed Bok Lee, who won the 2012 American Book Award for this moving collection of poems, is the son of Korean emigrants. The family’s transition from Seoul to North Dakota was difficult. He writes about getting stoned before and after school from the age of 13. John Freeman, editor of Granta, observed that Lee’s poems ask the same question Wallace Stevens’s poems asked many years ago: “How do you bridge the gap between America and its dream?” There are no easy answers here – instead, images of “…a long line of hungry souls” each of whom is a “spiritual refugee” (114).
Ed Bok Lee, Whorled (Minneapolis, Coffee House Press, 2011), 30.