When Poetry Meets The Sitar

Oct 24, 2019

Poet Li-Young Lee and Sitar player David Whetstone at a rehearsal before the debut of Speaking with the Universe.
Credit Photo courtesy of Sylvia Freeman.

Li-Young Lee came from a powerful Chinese family. His great-grandfather was president of the Republic of China. His father was the personal physician to Mao Zedong, the former chairman of the Communist Party of China. Fleeing exile from China, Lee’s family eventually found their way to the United States. Lee grew up witnessing the hate and violence directed at his family.

Those early experiences and the pain of his family is the root of his work as a poet. After more than a decade writing poetry, Lee broke form and reluctantly told his family’s story in the memoir “The Wingéd Seed: A Remembrance” (BOA Editions Ltd/2013). Lee again breaks form with his new endeavor: Speaking with the Universe. The production combines his poetry with music from world-renowned sitar player David Whetstone.

Lee joins host Frank Stasio to talk about his family’s journey and newest collaboration. The world premiere of Speaking with the Universe is on stage Friday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at the Durham Arts Council and Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7:30pm at Finch Memorial Chapel on the campus of Greensboro College. On Wednesday, Oct. 30 the production is at the Main Campus Student Center at East Carolina University.