Distance can be a source of productive creativity

Graduate Student Spotlight: Ae Hee Lee

PhD student in Creative Writing

In the context of globalization, the rising awareness of the world as an interconnected place, my poetry seeks to explore writing across languages and creative translation; it engages with the multiplicity of identity, with cross-cultural experience and communication.

I am working on a lyrical and semi-autobiographical collection of poetry situated in different times and places I have lived in: mainly localities within South Korea, Peru, and the United States. I view the distance I have experienced not simply as a confession of alienation but as a powerful source of critical reflection and creativity.

I ask questions about how private histories interweave with public ones and how they can influence each other: What does it mean to be a citizen? What is one’s place in culture? How do culture and nation influence one’s life? How do we change history?

The poems in my collection move across languages and selves, and ultimately challenge traditional ways of understanding otherness, belonging, and love between people of differing cultural backgrounds. Inspired by Gloria Anzaldua’s notion of the “new mestiza,” I am not interested in binaries. I am interested in complications and in-between spaces. I wish to relish the strangeness of everything and everyone and have it reflected in my poetry.