Convergence Zone hosts Janice Lee, extending meditate on Memory and Memorial

Janice LeeOne week after the 2021 Fall Convergence on the theme of Memory and Memorial, students and faculty in the MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics extended these considerations in a satellite event hosted at the Henry Art Gallery. The event featured Portland-based author Janice Lee, a Korean-American writer, editor, teacher, and shamanic healer, reading from her new book Imagine A Death. She also facilitated a workshop for current MFA students afterwards.

A depiction of the cycles of abuse and trauma in a prolonged end-time, Lee’s new book Imagine a Death examines the ways in which our pasts envelop us, the ways in which we justify horrible things in the name of survival, all of the horrible and beautiful things we are capable of when we are hurt and broken, and the animal (and plant) companions that ground us.  In the face of a slow but impending apocalypse, what binds 3 seemingly divergent lives (a writer, a photographer, an old man), isn’t the commonality of a perceived future death, but the layered and complex fabric of how loss, abuse, trauma, and death have shaped their pasts, and how these pasts continue to haunt their present moments, a moment in which time seems to be running out. The writer, traumatized by the violent death of her mother when she was a child, lives alone with her dog and struggles to finish her book. The photographer, stunted by the death of his grandmother and caretaker, struggles to take a single picture and enters into a complicated relationship with the writer. The old man, facing his past in small doses, spends his time watching television and reorganizing the objects in his apartment to stay distracted from the deterioration around him.

Janice Lee (she/her) is the author of 7 books of fiction, creative nonfiction & poetry, most recently: The Sky Isn’t Blue (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016), Imagine a Death (Texas Review Press, 2021), and Separation Anxiety (CLASH Books, 2022). She writes about interspecies communication, plants & personhood, the filmic long take, slowness, the apocalypse, architectural spaces, inherited trauma, and the concept of han in Korean culture, and asks the question, how do we hold space open while maintaining intimacy? Incorporating shamanic and energetic healing, she teaches workshops on inherited trauma, healing, and writing, and practices in several lineages, including the Q’ero, Buddhism, plant & animal medicine, and Korean shamanic ritual (Muism). She is Founder & Executive Editor of Entropy and Co-Founder of The Accomplices LLC. She currently lives in Portland, OR where she is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Portland State University.

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