Monday, March 11, 2013

Next Big Thing: J. Vera Lee

J. Vera Lee, aka Jee Young Lee, is a poet who has lived in Hawai`i for the past year and a few months. She grew up in Meadville, Pennsylvania, attended schools in Berkeley and Seattle, and has a son in intensest Little League here in Honolulu.  Tinfish Press will be publishing her first book of poems.

What is the working title of the book?
Diary of Use
.  It will be published Summer/Fall (2013) by Tinfish Press.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
‘Diary of use’ comes from my poem ‘item’ about hummingbirds and red-tubed flowers. There’s a kind of used beauty or used idea about the flower’s red tubes and I have a strong sense of recovering images from loss and dreams.

What genre does your book fall under?

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Plants, water, snow, but no animals, even though there is some mention of animals in the poems. My son usually says we are animals too.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
The poems in this first collection try to make a place for human relationships in nature, that banal or spiritual place.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I started writing the many of these poems in December 2011, but I’ve included some poems that were written and published around 2005-2007.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The book started, though many of the specific images have disappeared from it, because there are no deciduous tress in my yard in Makiki. At night - the wind can seem stronger then - I noticed green shoots that would later harden into branches and had the idea of a scalpel parting the leaves. It was my first experience of a play on Eden and/or paradise, and I think my poems, though I hadn’t ever been religious, bear out the disaffection.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The poems verge on hope, even faith. This feels almost mawkish or unfashionable to say except that the poems have a denuded look.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Make up a question you think is pressing in way of poetry today.
What is the lineage of influence in contemporary American poetry? Is this important to evaluate?

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