Wei-Wei Lee, the 2019/20 Youth Poet Laureate, will publish her first collection, In the Footsteps of a Thousand Griefs (Poetry NW Editions), on June 9, 2020. In a pre-recorded online event, Wei-Wei will read from her new book, and will be in conversation with the co-founders of the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program, mentors Aaron Counts and Matt Gano. To access the event on June 9, click the “View Event” button above.
In a time of uncertainty, Wei-Wei Lee’s debut poetry collection invites us to join her in her vulnerability, and partake in the forming of bonds between ourselves and the ever-evolving stories amidst our time and place. In the Footsteps of a Thousand Griefs asks us what it means to call a place home, and then cherishes the small things that silently root in us all until we are all surrounded by an abundance of beauty.
Wei-Wei was born in San Gabriel, California, but grew up one ocean away in Zhongli District, Taoyuan, Taiwan. She is a senior at Nathan Hale High School. She has been stateside for four years, and Seattle is the first U.S. city, she says, that she has ever known and loved. For her, poetry holds its beauty in language that comes from pure feeling and imagery. She set out to pay tribute to Taiwan and America in her work and, as she has said, “hopes [she] duly honored both.”
Claudia Castro Luna, the Washington State Poet Laureate, writes: “Wei-Wei’s poems from In the Footsteps of a Thousand Griefs work like concentric circles. The first poems in the collection fill our senses with the cacophony of life in the big city: the screech of cars, the waft of foods prepared by street vendors, the indifference of a passersby. As the book advances, the poems move us inward and we walk alongside the poet, her feet on the streets of Seattle, her heart longing for a country, for dear relatives, for a language and ways of being lost to exile. ‘Maybe desperation has its own tone’ the poet writes and goes on to render for us the intimate sounds of her experience.”