A collection of poems about starlight, survival, resilience, and acceptance after experiences of profound grief.
Steeped in the bluest apocalypse light of solar collapse and the pale, ghostly light of personal devastation and grief, Aerial Concave Without Cloud rests in the light of human mortality. Through a combination of academic research and the salp’uri dance form, Sueyeun Juliette Lee channels and interprets the language of starlight through her body and into poetic form. In doing so, Lee discovers that resilience is not an attitude or posture, but a way of listening. Through deep conversation with this primary element, Lee finds the human fundamental inside herself.
“This book wants to go beyond language, all languages, or to at least investigate the propensity of other languages, namely, light. An investigation into light in this way is also an invitation into a different way of seeing, a different way of being in the world, a different way of relating to environment, and an invitation into stepping into the interstices of light and darkness, namely, that kind of profound grief that devastates and breaks one open, but also brings the kind of clarity and sight that loss is not only loss, that death is not only death, and consequently, we, as feeling beings, are so much more than we take ourselves to be.”—Janice Lee, Orion Magazine
“As much as Aerial Concave is a book about light, it is also, and perhaps more fundamentally, a book about grief—a grief that is never quite named and that, perhaps because of this, comes to feel almost cosmic in scale, or at least planetary. Much as Boethius found consolation in philosophy, Lee seems to find consolation in geology, ecology, and cosmology. But this consolation comes not from minimizing her personal grief so much as from coming to see it as of a piece with larger geological processes.”—Michael Joseph Walsh, Southwest Contemporary
“Near the end of Sueyeun Juliette Lee’s latest book of poetry, Aerial Concave Without Cloud, she asks two questions from which, it seems, the rest of the collection springs. 'I began my inquiry into light, simply: can I decipher a … capacity to translate and speak the light with my living human body? And by doing so, can I relinquish the intensities of an inherited orphan grief?' she writes. This search—for transformation, for relief—unfurls throughout her writing as an ambitious, challenging meditation on language, atmosphere, and the way we make meaning of sensation.”—Jordan Cutler-Tietjen, 5280 Magazine
“Sueyeun Juliette Lee is one of the premier Korean American poets of our time, expanding poetic imagination using equations of light, negative thresholds, and dynamic experimentation. Her poems are investigations of truth, formed of corpuscles, discerning a future in which we can remain living both apart and together through transformation of the selves. In the silhouette of her world, Lee shows us ‘standing alone on the basalt shore’ and yet ‘gleam[ing] with a crystalline equanimity.’ With magnetized grief, crossing into the span of discovery, Lee speaks to us, and we are listening.”—E. J. Koh
“Without cloud, because the poet has the clarity of a flawless lens and crystal articulation. Fear of the dark motivated our ancestors to invent ways of keeping light through the night. Sueyeun Juliette Lee’s poems hold a luminous accord over our blanket of spent nerves. Aerial Concave Without Cloud is a masterpiece because it is for our time and generations to come; the poet who will have us question what we think we know about this world, and how to love it, and one another anew.”—CAConrad