the 2004 poetry book by Jeffrey Ethan Lee

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reviews and interview and forum
audio files of the poetry
outtakes from the poetry manuscript
essay on dialogic lyric form
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other works by jeffrey ethan lee

Printable Press Kit

Web page created by Jeffrey Ethan Lee, updated 10/20/2008

cover art of invisible sister poetry book



On Acid Free 75-pound Classic Laid paper.


A Writer's Blog


Also by this author, identity papers

The Ghost Road Press site for identity papers

“In these poems Jeffrey Ethan Lee comes to hold and know the whole fragile, euphoric world. “I could've been anyone,” he writes, and with gorgeous, insistent and astonishingly musical lines, he moves in and out of selves and what is to be apprehended. This is no sotto voce debut, but a full-voiced one.”
—A.V. Christie, National Poetry Series Winner

“[T]he long poem “invisible sister” the heart of the work, and while it is challenging in its complexity, it will reward any reader who has ever struggled for communion with another person.”
—Thaddeus Rutkowski for Small Press Review & Gathering of the Tribes

“Jeffrey Lee creates a new way of reading in invisible sister, but more importantly a new way for the reader to see the book as performance space: to be orated, sung, swilled; more than this invisible sister teaches the reader how to hear and experience its special and peculiar music. The joy of the invisible is the tell-tale footprint, the door moving slightly ajar—this is a special and unique book that opens new space in the page for perception and then for the further deepening of that same space. The voice makes a sound because a stringed instrument in the body vibrates. The margins of this book vibrate—the absent center is the sound.”
—Kazim Ali, the New England/NY Poetry Prize Winner, Alice James Books

"...the title poem [is] a tour de force of persona and plot as a brother watches his sister careen out of control. “invisible sister” does indeed set up a dialogue of great tension—its sprawling formal voices and the dual (and dueling) columns challenge the notion of Asians as an “invisible” minority. Iris, the invisible sister, serves not only as witness to her own experience but becomes a sort of every-girl when she is coaxed into a barn by her white friend....

Jeffrey Ethan Lee has done a great service to performance poetry. His careful line breaks, as well as his deft use of white space and text, suggest a deliberate and thoughtful architecture that belies a common complaint that so much of performance poetry does not hold up on the page.

[T]here is much to be admired in all of Jeffrey Ethan Lee’s poetic personas and voices...."

—Denise Duhamel for American Book Review

Invisible Sister, Jeffrey Ethan Lee's first full-length collection of poems, is a daring act of language that delivers with grace the self inescapably splintered by language. In the book's prologue, Lee names some of the things that betrayed him, such as "whiteness," "pretty blonde," "beautiful doll"terms of race and gender that indelibly constructed and confined the self: "I could've been anyone / if only the cells of the self / would've let me out." This fragmented self ("all the hiding selves who seek") takes the reader through the book's core, a long poem broken into chapters from the life of Iris, the "invisible sister" of the title.

Iris, named for the eye's light regulator; for the rainbow and its goddess; for the plant of sword-shaped leaves and variously colored flowers. No wonder, then, that eyes, rainbow, sky, sun, light, shadow, and leaves are among the words and images that reverberate throughout Invisible Sister. Also echoing throughout are words of color, weather, phase, and extension: white, blue, rain, snow, ice, flame, roots, limbs, branches, lines. Fragments of lines unfold a story told in two voices (his and hers), the overlapping of which conveys this certainty: Iris' being heard is key to her visibility, to the whole self's seeing the multicolor truth.

Marj Hahne for RainTaxi Review of Books





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