“A tome to make you, for the first time, truly evaluate what it means to be ‘modern’ man.”

Each day leading up to the April 14 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2012 Poetry Finalist:

Ed Bok Lee

Coffee House Press

Category Sponsor: Wellington Management, Inc.


What does it mean to be a global citizen in an era of constant war, rampant industrialization, and ever-advancing technology? Whorled confronts and celebrates the many complications of globalism through meditations on war, migration and culture.

An excerpt from Whorled:

On the other side of the world, there is a language I have never heard
It is beautiful, and in this dying tongue, there are words for Love and God
that resemble Bread and Wing
Or another forest language in which Mother and Knife

equal Drawer and Sing
And Island Wood is somewhere Desert Milk
And Berry, elsewhere is a Door
And if you added up all these dying words, and the people who speak them.


Ed Bok Lee is an assistant professor at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul and the author of a previous collection, Real Karaoke People.


“A tome to make you, for the first time, truly evaluate what it means to be ‘modern’ man.”
– Minnesota Book Awards judge

“His poems are alternately devastating and grandstanding, word-drunk and built for speed… There is another other/ in the other of every/ Another,” goes the opening poem, “All Love Is Immigrant.” It’s a beautiful poem charged with a breathtaking idea. Whorled is a book that believes love is like a superior kind of capital: It’s a force that flows into new markets, sensing absences, and fills them, whether it’s a debased kind of space or an ennobling one.”
– John Freeman, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“In this book, Lee is the writer and traveler of not only distances but of time. His staccato free-verse style is dynamic as ever, better read aloud than in silence, with a greater maturity, and a discernible global perspective. . . . If Ed Bok Lee still carries the sense of being an immigrant, then language—the power of words is Lee’s turf, his citizenship… Lee is a prolific and diverse writer.”
– Korean Quarterly


In this interview, Ed Bok Lee tells David Shook at Molossus how his far-flung travels and lifelong exposure to many of the world’s religions cultures has influenced his writing.

Listen to this interview with the Asia Pacific Forum, as Lee talks about why he paints the near-future the way he does.  


Award winners will be announced at the 24th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel – Saint Paul Riverfront. The opening reception begins at 7 p.m. followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. New this year: a post-awards “Epilogue Celebration.” Tickets are available online or by calling 651-222-3242. Click here for more information.

Have you read Whorled? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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