Words and images waltz gracefully across the pages in this artfully arranged poetry collection.
The title of Lee’s visually stunning debut work provokes a simple question: does it refer to escaping from somewhere or escaping to somewhere? The answer, it seems, is a bit of both. Many of the volume’s poems discuss getting away from painful relationships; thus, readers often find Lee recycling tropes that they’ll know well from pop-culture romance. In “Masochist,” for instance, she tells of a lover who feels worthless after a beloved’s departure: “I’m no good right now. / There’s nothing I can give / I left it all with him….He hurt me. And I am angry, in / a dark place, but I am trying / to move forward—without him.” And in “Lies,” Lee writes of the little untruths that a person deploys to ease his or her way through a breakup: “He asked for some space. He said that he / needed a little time – that it might just / be a case of his winter blues….He lied and we both knew.” Depending on one’s perspective, such insights are either universal or trite, but if Lee’s verse occasionally tends toward clichés, it’s just as often saved by the dozens of beautiful photographs interspersed throughout the volume. Nearly all are images of landscapes, including many long shots of breathtaking vistas. The message seems clear: if the pricks and pains of love often send people running for the hills, that might not be such a bad thing. Lee’s nature scenes are pleasing in their variety—beaches and mountains, forests and plains. Throughout, her focus and her framing are uniformly excellent, but most impressive is her ability to shoot the sky; indeed, the heavens above become another character in the book—a silent yet enduring witness to the human dramas playing out below. Lee’s graphic design impulses are also spot-on, balancing photos and poems with professional skill.
A sleek, multimedia volume that provides a helpful reminder that a physical book can, in itself, be art.