In her second collection of poems, Year of the Snake, Lee Ann Roripaugh probes themes of mixed-race female identities, evoking the molting processes of snakes and insects, who shed their skins and shells, as an ongoing metaphor for transformation of self. By intertwining contemporary renditions of traditional Japanese myths and fairy tales with poems that explore the landscape of childhood and early adolescence, she blurs the boundaries between myth and memory, between real and imagined selves. This collection explores cultural, psychological, and physical liminalities and exposes the diasporic arc cast by first-generation Asian mothers and their second-generation daughters, revealing a desire for metamorphosis of self through time, geography, culture, and myth.
Lee Ann Roripaugh's first collection of poems, Beyond Heart Mountain, was a 1998 winner of the National Poetry Series Award. She is the recipient of a 2003 Artist Fellowship from the Archibald Bush Foundation, the Randall Jarrell International Poetry Prize, and the Academy of American Poets Prize. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, North American Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Crab Orchard Review, and in the anthology Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of South Dakota and the poet laureate of South Dakota.