Poet Connects with Audiences

Award-winning Poet Li-Young Lee concludes public appearances tonight as part of his Distinguished-Scholar-in-Residence visit this week.

Acclaimed Poet Li-Young Lee (center) with young poets and winners of the NPM@USF poetry competition: Floydd Michael Elliott, Andrew Hemmert, Kshanikadevi Persaud and Sashinya DeSilva.                                                                                                    Photos by Barbara Melendez | USF News

By Barbara Melendez

     USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (April 3, 2014) – Li-Young Lee, this month’s USF Distinguished-Scholar-in-Residence, added his voice to poems beloved by his fans in an intimate reading of his work Tuesday evening at the Patel Center. An interview and question-and-answer session takes place tonight with the author at 6 in the Patel Center Auditorium, moderated by the Humanities Institute's Assistant Director Liz Kicak.

Lee spoke with audience members following his poetry reading.

Held at rapt attention, the audience hung on every word. The hushed atmosphere gently broken by shared laughter over Lee’s humorous self-deprecating comments about himself and his writing process.

Using intimate moments from his personal life, Lee spoke quietly yet with a firm emphasis on each observed detail paying attention to the smallest gestures and the most fleeting sensations. His wife’s and son’s words and actions provided much of the raw material.

“It wasn’t until I had children that I realized it was possible to love so much that it hurts,” he observed before launching into his self-described “love poems.”

Lee signed copies of his books including his first poetry collection, "Rose."

He shared with his audience poems that are still under construction and that are yet unnamed along with older works including “Virtues of the Boy Husband,” observing humorously, “I thought perhaps I should start a boy husband club.”

After the conclusion of the reading, Lee engaged in an honest and heartfelt dialogue with audience members and later signed copies of his books and talked with audience members.

The program opened with the awarding of prizes in the NPM@USF, National Poetry Month writing contest. The winners are listed on the NPM@USF website.

Lee is the author of “Behind My Eyes; Book of My Nights” and “Rose” which was the winner of the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, and “The City in Which I Love You,” a Lamont Poetry Selection, and a memoir, and American Book Award winner, “The Winged Seed: A Remembrance.”

To hear Lee read and talk about his poem, “This Room & Everything in It,” visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcAeCqCAwpo.

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563