On this episode of “The Archive Project,” award-winning poet Li-Young Lee reads seven of his poems: “Station,” “The Children’s Hour,” “Have You Prayed?,” “Self-help for Fellow Refugees,” “Immigrant Blues,” “Trading for Heaven,” and “Virtues of the Boring Husband.” He introduces each poem with anecdotal information, including his philosophies about romantic love and its connection to finding God. In the Q&A afterward, Lee talks about the psychological and physiological processes involved in reading a poem and the role that personal identity plays in poetic composition.
Li-Young Lee was born in 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents. His family settled in the United States in 1964. He is the author of “Rose” (1986), which won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award; “The City in Which I Love You” (1990), which was the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection; “The Winged Seed” (1995); “Book of My Nights” (2001), which won the 2002 William Carlos Williams Award; and “Behind My Eyes” (2008). Lee has been the recipient of the Lannan Literary Award; the Whiting Writers’ Award; the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award; the I. B. Lavan Award; three Pushcart Prizes; grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts; and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1998, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from State University of New York at Brockport. He lives in Chicago, Illinois, with his wife, Donna, and their two sons.