Upcoming Events


Saturday, March 16, 7 pm
Plymouth Congregational Church
1900 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis

Join us for the book launch of Ed Bok Lee’s latest, Mitochondrial Night, a collection that traces paths through time, genealogy, and geography. Taking mitochondrial DNA as his guide, Lee explores familial and national legacies—the trait of an ancestor appears in the face of a newborn, and in her cry generations of women’s voices echo. Using lush, exact imagery, whether about the corner bar or an invasion in medieval Korea, Lee is a careful observer, tracking and documenting the way that seemingly small moments can lead to larger insights.

This event, free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by Literary Witnesses, Rain Taxi Review of Books and Korean Quarterly. Reception to follow, with music by DJ NAK. We hope to see you there!

“In Mitochondrial Night, Ed Bok Lee takes us on an intimate journey through space and time, introduces us to people and places we have and have not met, to center us in our humblest humanity… He looks to raise from the dead the spirits of wars lost, wars long forgotten, the wars being waged now, and he does so with a light, lonely hand. This collection is explosive; it shatters the boundaries of self in the service of art.”
—Kao Kalia Yang

“Ed Bok Lee’s Mitochondrial Night is a thrilling book by a gifted poet at the height of his powers.”
—Khaled Mattawa

Ed Bok Lee, the son of North and South Korean emigrants, grew up in South Korea, North Dakota, and Minnesota, and was educated on both U.S. coasts as well as Russia, South Korea, and Kazakhstan. He teaches at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, and for two decades has taught in numerous programs for youth and the incarcerated. Lee is the author of Whorled (Coffee House Press), a recipient of a 2012 American Book Award and the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry; other honors include the Asian American Literary Award (Members’ Choice Award) and a PEN/Open Book Award. Author photo by Ted Hall.


Thursday, March 7, 2019, 7:00pm
Common Good Books
38 Snelling Ave S, St Paul

Join us as we welcome master poet Claudia Keelan! Keelan will read from her new book We Step into the Sea: New and Selected Poems (Barrow Street, 2018). A literary scholar and translator as well, Keelan’s other recent work includes Ecstatic Émigré, a book of essays in the Poets on Poetry Series from University of Michigan Press (2018), and Truth of My Songs: Poems of the Trobairitz (Omnidawn, 2015), which collects her translations of works by women troubadours.

"We Step into the Sea collects over three decades of work by one of the most singular voices in contemporary American poetry. It tells the story of a lyric poet who both probes and sheds the self in search of a "we," not to belong to, but rather, to care for, to serve: "I will hold us safely together, / we will consider the falling whole." In these poems of passive resistance and active celebration, we are given a panoramic view of a poet who insists that experimentation is an ethical imperative, one that will help us forge a kingdom of compassion that runs counter to empire."
—Sasha Steensen

Other praise for Claudia Keelan:

“These are beautiful, anguished political poems . . . Keelan writers both for herself and the many. Her language, as language, is intended to create change through a deliberate evenhanded musicality, but the poems are also desert-air-clear as to meaning.”
 —Alice Notley

“Keelan’s work, always politically engaged, here takes a tender and personal turn . . . A deep feeling collection not afraid to look loss in the face.”
 —Cole Swensen

Claudia Keelan was born in Southern California when it was still covered with orange groves, and NATO began the embargo still in place, against lovely Cuba. She’s taught in many writing programs, including the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of Alabama, where she held the Coal Royalty Chair in Poetry, and the University of Nevada, where she is a Barrick Distinguished Scholar and editor of the journal Interim. Her honors include the Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books, the Cleveland State University Poetry Prize, the University of Georgia Contemporary Poetry Series Award, and the Jerome Shestack prize from the American Poetry Review.

Keelan lives in the Mojave Desert with the poet Donald Revell, son Ben, daughter Lucie, standard poodle Miss Margaret Jarvis, and a worried schnauzer named Dugan.