Esther Lee's Spit shines. Filled with bravado and brilliance, Lee's debut fills in the blanks it makes profound use of, hollering across the "rusted hollows." Utilizing a host of forms, from montage to prose poems, "Interviews with My [C]orean Father" to fractured sonnets. Lee echoes and evokes a multitude of identities: writer, sister, "good girl," lover. If this is the future of American poetry, as it appears to be, we are in good hands.
Spit, Esther Lee's debut collection of poems, interrogates the many tenuous connections that get forged....Here are visceral poems in which gardens are watered with urine, family members are marked by each others' "spit and fingernails," where love is tempered with violence. Still, the violence of the family life is a reflection of the ironic violence of the [C]orean immigrant experience in America, one in which its participants must leave one politically disrupted culture to join the other that helped to destroy it: a process that often historically negates the pain [C]orean individuals have had to endure in order to preserve the American "melting pot" mythology. Fresh and brutal, serious and comic, Spit is a deeply heartfelt examination of family, language, and personal connection in this multi-ethnic, multi-historied America. "Convert me please," Lee writes. Converted.
Esther Lee's poems are calling out to the other in her wild quest to find herself. In letters, interviews and prayers she asks, pleads, demands recognition because she is the "good girl fight[ing] a medium-sized meteor," and the thing is hurling through space and aimed at her heart. In lines of breathtaking dexterity she juggles images and language itself like a romantic master. Her questions are plainspoken and elegant, straight-edged and rococo, high-minded and hilarious. Oh, the worlds that swirl in the brain of this poet, and we are lucky enough to be on the odyssey with her.