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Cultural narratives find community at Poets House
In a November 13th discussion at Poets House on “(Re) Writing Culture,” Sueyeun Juliette Lee “said that one of her main concerns is ‘achieving a sense of belonging’ and she posited, ‘alienation is the root of world problems.’”
Each of the three poets featured– Lee, whose work explores the multiple “national spaces” she exists in as a Korean-American; Barbara Jane Reyes who reconstructs personal, cultural, and mythological Filipino narratives that have been largely ignored; and Craig Santos Perez, a poet and ethnographer who studies language, imperialism, and also weaves personal and family narratives into his work on the repeated invasions of Guam– use the flexibility of poetry to communicate challenging perspectives (from differing cultures, time periods, political angles) and develop connections that bind communities closer together.
Lee mentioned that she went through an intensely religious period in her life and as she came out of that period she chose to “drop out of society” in order to examine and reorder her life. She started writing poetry and she saw this as a rebellion against religious and political dogmas, but strangely enough it was poetry that brought her “back into the world” and it is the writing and community of writers and readers that continue to keep her fully engaged within the world.