Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents, Li-Young Lee came to the United States in 1964. He is the author of two books of poetry: Rose, which won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award, and The City in Which I Love You, an Academy of American Poets Lamont Poetry Selection. His other honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His most recent book is The Winged Seed: A Remembrance.
Mar 01 2000
An Interview with Li-Young Lee
I feel that the work of poetry is like making potato latkes. Every poem is like a potato latke, that’s all it is. On the other hand, it’s the most important thing a person can do. I suppose it’s because I believe poetry’s work is to uncover a genuine or authentic human identity, an identity even prior to childhood. It’s like the Zen question: What was your face before you were born? I think poetry tries to answer that, to come to terms with an identity that’s ancient and eternally fresh because it is so ancient.