• WHAT MATTERS TO ME IS STORY

    Date: 2021.09.06 | Category: Poetry, Septuagenarian, The Art of Writing | Response: 0

    WHAT MATTERS TO ME IS STORY

     

    It’s been six months since my memoir in verse, Septuagenarian, debuted.  I think about this as another Minnesota poet, and another, and another has released another book of poems.  I think about how different our voices are. How different our techniques. I am less about craft and more about subject. Perhaps because I was told I didn’t learn how to write in graduate school, I didn’t want to prove them wrong.  Or, perhaps, because I was told that what I wrote about wasn’t trendy, I did want to prove them wrong. Trendy not why I write, but that what I write matters (if only to me).  As Deborah Keenan said about my book:

     

    Sherry Quan Lee writes with a purity of intention.  She has no interest in certain kinds of poetics that conceal, or only honor, adornment.  She has her gaze on the long sweep of her personal history.

     

    What matters to me is self-awareness and healing and to know and accept that I am strong—that I am okay. What matters to me is story. And knowing that mine is only one story, but stories intersect no matter how different they may seem, at least that’s been my experience.  Sometimes it’s a similar time and location, a tragedy, a celebration, gender, culture, sexuality, race, age—family.

     

    Yet, since publication, I have seldom opened my book to read what I had written.  Out of fear or out of closure I’m not sure which, maybe both.

     

    Recently I finally let go of dollars to find a streaming service where I could watch Queen Sugar.  I am on Season 4.  Every episode of the entire series has my emotions roller coasting as I come to it from my history and my experience. Nova is an activist, an artist.  She wrote a memoir telling family stories, divulging secrets.  Her family is unforgiving.

     

    Beginning seven years ago my sisters one by one turned from me.  If there was an excuse it was, to me, senseless; one sibling yelling she hoped my writing friends took care of me.  One sibling saying my highs and lows were too much for her.  And one sibling refused to come up with an excuse.  Were they afraid of my truth-telling?  Was I wrong to share our stories? Did my writing have nothing or everything to do with the separations? Two of my  three sisters gave me permission, the other sister I respectfully left out of my books.  I even changed my last name (another kind of separation).

     

    I hope Nova and her family can reconcile and forgive.  Yet for me, separation feels healthy, but sad—I can’t stop grieving.  Is truth-telling for a greater good if the truth be told continues a history of separation?   Does a writer/an artist have control over what they write? Are we born to disrupt?  Can our souls/our spirits handle the repercussions, the displacement?

     

    My most recent book struggles with the theme of separation.  The separations that have cursed my family. Black families/slave families were separated by the auction block, if not that assigned duties and  gender were other forms of separation.  A female slave assigned to house duties-including the duty of fulfilling the master’s sexual improprieties.  And from those liaisons, babies of various skin colors/mixed-race babies—my great-grandmother–added another dimension to the separation of families. Black men were lynched.

     

    Separation was created by laws that kept Chinese immigrants, who came to work in America as cheap labor, from bringing their wives.  West Coast Japanese were separated during WWII most in internment camps, some joined or were drafted into the armed services, others were able to attend college in Minnesota.  My Chinese father joined the Navy because he wanted to, leaving a wife and two young daughters’ home in Minneapolis while he fought the Japanese from a ship out at sea.

     

    My story is complex (as yours probably is too):  poverty, passing, fear, anger, divorce, addictions–separations.  Each poem, each book releases and sets aside who I was to create space for who I am.  Yet who I was has a way of creeping into who I am so I will never be free enough to be happy; but I am emotionally healthy which comes from years of learning, of therapy, of listening, of reading–of truth-telling. Minnesota is a choir of many voices, many songs; poetry. Colorful/diverse writers inform me, connect me, keep me from becoming idle, from being satisfied. Keep me alert.

     

    Maybe today I will open my book, Septuagenarian, and re-remember a life I have lived.  73 years-old.  I have no regrets.

     

    Sherry Quan Lee

    © September 6, 2021

  • MIDTOWN GLOBAL MARKET MINNEAPOLIS

    Date: 2021.06.30 | Category: Events | Response: 0

    Local Art with Global Flair

    Saturday, July 17 at MIDTOWN GLOBAL MARKET

    WHAT: Midtown Global Market will celebrate the work of eight local artists with artwork displays,

    live music, a book signing and prize giveaways.

    Honored multicultural author, Sherry Quan Lee, will sign her books from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

    Live music by local musician, Matt Yetter, will fill the air from noon until 2 p.m.

    Participating artists displaying and selling their creations will include:

     Chris Anderson – showing cotton batik kimonos and hand sewn books.
     D'MChelle – hand-crafted wire wrapped jewelry.
     Susan Gainen – cards and paintings reflecting her principle of “every piece looks better
    because of the pieces that surround it.”
     Allie Hafez – colorful handmade jewelry made from an assimilation of recycled materials and
    mixed media.
     Diane May – brings her European family traditions to her work in cards, prints, and paintings.
     Juan Parker – a visual artist with colorful and vibrant African-themed art

    WHEN: Saturday, July 17, 2021
    11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

    WHERE: Midtown Global Market – Central Court – 920 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis
    Convenient ramp parking on the east side of the building off 10 th Street
    First hour free with any purchase

    MORE: Midtown Global Market is an internationally themed public marketplace offering groceries,
    great food, and unique gifts. Midtown Global Market, owned by two non-profit entities: The
    Cultural Wellness Center and the Neighborhood Development Center, serves as a small
    business incubator whose mission is to provide access and opportunity for aspiring
    entrepreneurs. Together these entities make up a dynamic community gathering place that
    highlights the talent, ambition and cultural assets that characterize its neighborhood,
    contributing to its economic and social fabric. www.midtownglobalmarket.org
    CONTACT: Molly Steinke, Nemer Fieger, molly@nemerfieger.com, 612-309-1677

  • Book Tour Interview Poetic Book Tours

    Date: 2021.06.20 | Category: Interviews, Septuagenarian | Response: 0

    https://jeyranmain.com/2021/05/18/an-interview-with-sherry-quan-lee/#comments

  • A LOVE POEM

    Date: 2021.04.14 | Category: Poetry, Septuagenarian | Response: 0

    Age Has Everything to Do With It

     

    Permission to write this poem, to weave this story.

    To hold the hand to touch the narrative.

     

    Not all relationships are volatile. Not this one.

    Age has everything to do with it.

     

    They meet for the first time in a park and it’s raining.

     

    She places a cross on the picnic bench, unsure

    if it’s necessary. Not knowing she is protected

    by organic food and lack of devilish intent.

     

    If needed, there is an umbrella; but truth weathers

    gray skies and intuition.

     

    They break bread and sip jasmine tea. This is love,
    or so she reckoned, not just another walk in the woods.

     

    copyright Sherry Quan Lee; from Septuagenarian: love is what happens when I die

Artist Statement

Sherry Quan Lee approaches writing as a community resource and as culturally based art of an ordinary everyday practical aesthetic. Lee is a Community Instructor at Metropolitan State University (Intro to Creative Writing, Advanced Creative Writing), and has taught at Intermedia Arts, and the Loft Literary Center. She is the author of A Little Mixed Up, Guild Press, 1982 (second printing), Chinese Blackbird, a memoir in verse, published 2002 by the Asian American Renaissance, republished 2008 by Loving Healing Press, and How to Write a Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life, Loving Healing Press, 2008.

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SHERRY QUAN LEE

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SEPTUAGENARIAN

Septuagenarian by Sherry Quan Lee

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

Goodreads Book Giveaway

How Dare We! Write by Sherry Quan Lee

How Dare We! Write

by Sherry Quan Lee

Giveaway ends June 09, 2021.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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HOW DARE WE! WRITE

LOVE IMAGINED

Love Imagined book by Sherry Quan Lee

CHINESE BLACKBIRD

Chinese Blackbird Book by Sherry Quan Lee

HOW TO WRITE A SUICIDE NOTE

How to Write a Suicide Note by Sherry Quan Lee

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