Karen An-hwei Lee, The Beautiful Immunity (Tupelo Press)

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Karen An-hwei Lee is the author of the new poetry collection, The Beautiful Immunity, released by Tupelo Press in May, 2024. Her collection includes the poem “Dear Millennium, on the Proof of Beauty”, which originally appeared in The Gravity of the Thing’s Summer 2018 issue.


The Beautiful Immunity is a quartet of motifs about faith and witness in an age of crisis, divided into four sections: “The Millennial Year of the Superbloom,” “Ode to My Namesake on the Other Side of the Universe,” “Dear Millennium, on the Beautiful Immunity,” and “On Meridians of Love and Distance.” With a radiant, beatific impulse, Lee’s luminous poems yearn for healing and redemption from spiritual blight in an epoch of collapse.


“Is there a purer lyricist in contemporary American poetry than Karen An-hwei Lee? The Beautiful Immunity is in part a meditation on the lyric tradition, built around the contention that ‘Modes of witness / expose our inadequacy, the human,’ and in part a revel inside that same tradition, an opulent feast at the table set by the five senses and the mind and heart they serve. To speak opulence, to praise with a lavish tongue:  this is the beauty of Lee’s singular vision, as it is also a pledge of her faith in both Giver and given.”

—G.C. Waldrep

“In this ringing and consummate work, Lee reconnects us with Christianity’s foundations… demonstrating that adamant hope can translate into vigorous action through language applied in the most incisive and persuasive ways.”

—Cole Swenson

“I’ve often wondered if the enthusiasm of Blake or the humility of George Herbert could possibly have survived the coarse depredations of this 21st century. Thanks to the poems Karen An-hwei Lee, I wonder no more. All shall be well. In The Beautiful Immunity, ecstasy never fails to defy deprivation. Desire never yields to despondency. One blossom, one syllable or simply a taste of spice on the tongue can prompt a beautiful vastation and an honest prayer… There are wings on these words.”

—Donald Revell