Winner of the 2021 Frost Place Chapbook Competition
selected by Tiana Clark
Connotary crosses through the porous borders of nation-states, cultures, selves, and languages. As an account of migration and meetings, the poems repeatedly move with and between the three countries Ae Hee Lee calls home. By rendering words into personal connotations instead of offering literal translations, these poems insist on intimacy as they explore how meaning can move along with one’s story.
*Cover artwork by Stephanie Law
“There is an exquisiteness to the jewellike poems inside Connotary. This is a poet that polishes every line with stunning prosody, imagery, and a keen attention to aesthetics. Each poem shimmers as the poet investigates the endless relationship to family and language. Korean, Spanish, and English are braided throughout the chapbook as the speaker in these poems negotiates the idea of home in what we lose, gain, carry, pass down, and offer up inside the various translations. Each poem is a gleaming facet. Each poem is a miracle of its own making. Each poem is a gesture at defining the abstractions and comparisons between words and worlds. I was left in awe at the dazzling mastery.”
—Tiana Clark, judge of the 2021 Frost Place Chapbook Competition
“Ae Hee Lee’s Connotary is one of those rare collections in which every poem holds its own weight, each with its own unique beauty, that the reader regrets every page turned toward the end. Connotary declares with quiet assuredness that despite all the circumstances and forces that turn her into the Other in her own home and relationships, the poet wields the narrative truth and transformative power to claim her space, no, go beyond it—to ignite that space with magic. I am grateful to be witness to Lee’s careful exploration of the themes of memory, myth, migration, and family, masterfully threaded together with tenderness and surprising metaphor.”
—Emily Jungmin Yoon
- “Hyu :: In-Between” and “El Milagro :: Edges,” Southeast Review
- “Han-sum :: Breath, Singular,” Small Orange Journal
- “Bonsung-a :: Impatient Balsam” and “Madrugada :: Small Hours,” The Adroit Journal
Dear bear, is a collection of letters, a compendium of notes to both the apocalyptic and the paradoxical self. Its setting, the forest, is both physical and metaphorical, and the titular bear real and unreal. The world here is an abstraction—both an inevitable destruction and a romantic conservation.
*Cover artwork by Abigail Reed
Praise & Reviews
Ae Hee Lee’s evocative epistles in Dear bear are love poems as much for the post-glacial earth she resurrects in the aftermath of a great flood as for the title character with whom the speaker longs to make a home in the forest ‘at the border of every ruin, of every past home.’ — Brenda Cárdenas
Lee rethinks the myths, and she starts this by shedding her own skin, thinking of herself a sea snake. Throughout the book, Lee shapes metaphors and tears them down; one of her gifts to poetry is how she opens the possibility of building on what cannot be whole. — Valerie Mejer Caso
Lee’s Dear bear, is a tantalizing never-ending sequence that makes love on the page, all the while contemporizing the epistolary tradition of literature and emphasizing the importance of ecology. I want to capture all the bursting berries and pear blossoms of this universe. — Dorothy Chan
Rare is the book of poems that hooks you from the dedication page, but ‘For Daniel, to the end.’ captures the irresistibly fatal dart that is Ae Hee Lee’s Dear bear. — Joyelle McSweeney
This chapbook is so beastly resilient, so voluptuous in its elegance, and so passionately written that it could make ‘your biggest secret: your fetish for small feet’ stop hibernating or heighten your sense of smell for Lee’s work. — Vi Khi Nao
“Letters from a Dying World: A Review of Ae Hee Lee’s Dear bear,” by Leonora Simonovis in The Adroit Journal
“Sundress Reads: Review of Dear bear,” by Abigail Renner in Sundress Blog
“Dear bear,” review by Juniper Jordan Cruz in Cleaver
- [ don’t be shy ], Four Way Review.
- [ this is my complaint ], Michigan Quarterly Review.
- Launch Event on Instagram
Bedtime || Riverbed is for the tiger, for the bear, for the children, for the lovers. These poems are reflections in water. They are Korean folk retellings rippling with “Hanja”; Classical Chinese characters representing ideas incorporated into the Korean language with Korean meaning & pronunciation. Each of the four poems in this book is preceded by a key; a conglomeration of the Hanja characters used in the text, their native Korean “Hangul” counterparts, Latin alphabet renderings of their pronunciation, & some potential translations & associations.
*Cover artwork and drawings by Lucy Meyle