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Real Karaoke People; Ed Bok Lee review
Ed Bok Lee grew up in parts of Korea, North Dakota, and my home city of Minneapolis. I guess that's part of the reason why I admire him: he's a hometown boy. I also love his work because it gives me a different view of my home, of the place I grew up in. Sometimes It's a view I don't like. There is such truth, in his poetry. I guess that's also why I love it so much. He doesn't like to me through pretty words. But as to how I stumbled upon his work...
I first heard his spoken poetry some years ago when I was still in high school. He came to do a reading of his best known poem, "Real Karaoke People". It was amazing. Up until then I hadn't really had an interest in spoken-word poetry, or in anything modern. This greatly changed my mind. "Real karaoke men / wear white underwear / and find strange comfort in cubicles". Lee had a fantastic way of speaking, drawing the crowd in, and making you listen to his words. And karaoke women? "real karaoke women / pop buttons; plant roses / with the gravity of their focus; / raise the dead beloved / in the rise and fall of their voices". I also heard several people perform his work at Speech Team meets. I fell in love. So I bought his first book of poetry, called Real Karaoke People
Some other noteworthy poems are "frozen in the sky", "our hair", and "the secret to life in america", the last being my favorite (and is so because of the imagery, and the way it moves me to tears).
I would recommend his poetry to anyone. Check it out. (:
(A snippit from "the secret to life in america"): "Work your ass off and move away from this shit hole / out to the suburbs. Maybe marry / a white girl. / I don't know, I tell him. / Go off and write... Poetry. / I won't, I say. / Yes, you will. And when you do, / do me this one favor. / What, I ask. / Lie. / And make our father and me / the heroes / you always needed us to be."
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