Another Other Immigrant

November 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

For the day we celebrate the immigrant, I’m reminded of a poem by Ed Bok Lee, a Korean American poet from Minneapolis whom I had the pleasure to hear read a month ago. Though this spoken word performer had many lovely images (the sea is the first / and oldest movie) and powerful words (it matters / how I die as much / as what I do / to survive), one phrase stuck out to me, “All love is immigrant.”

After the reading, I bought his recent collection Whorled (2011) and immediately flipped through until I found, not just a line, but this short poem which begins the collection:

All Love is Immigrant

There is another other
in the other of every


I’m still sitting with these words.

Perhaps no “other” is so iconic as Dorothea Lange’s 1936 photo of an impoverished Migrant Mother. Abstract artist Marten Jansen was struck by how the family continued to live in poverty despite the fame of the photograph. He writes, “Everyone has seen the photo, everyone has identified with the family, but the real-life individuals remain irrelevant.” He painted that depersonalization of the mother, titled Immigrant below.

Director James Bort also celebrates the other in every Another through dancers around the world. He says, “I wanted to make a small tribute to the dance, all dance forms, like a musical score played with several instruments. The idea is to bring together seven dancers and so many worlds, countries, styles, ages and personalities. ”

The result is an entire-bodied celebration of so many passions. I’ve yet to see a tap dancer who doesn’t love what he’s doing.

The dedication for Ed Bok Lee’s book is “for those who let love learn.” Isn’t that lovely? May you, Readers, let love learn this long weekend.


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