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Immigrant Blues

Immigrant Blues

by Li-Young Lee

Immigrant Blues Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What's the effect of all the different names for the "story" that we encounter in the poem? Do they remind you of anything? Do they help you better understand the immigrant experience?
  2. Our speaker seems to avoid even the slightest specifics (like which country his family came from, where they're living now, what happened to motivate their immigration, etc.). Does this change how we read the poem? How so? What if he had included some of these details?
  3. Where does the woman he mentions fit into his life, and how does she fit into the poem? How do you know?
  4. Do you think our speaker is generalizing the experience of being an immigrant too much? Where is the border between recognizing similarities in experiences and sweeping away all the important distinctions?
  5. Why do you think this poem is called "Immigrant Blues"? Why not call it one of the many other titles featured within the poem?
  6. Why are there so many stanzas? How does this structure affect how we read the poem?
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