Li-Young Lee was born in 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents who had been exiled from China. After fleeing the regime of Indonesian President Sukarno in 1959 through Hong Kong, Macau and Japan, the family settled in the United States in 1964.
Lee is the author of four books of poetry: “Behind My Eyes” (2008); “Book of My Nights” (2001); “The City in Which I Love You” (1991); and “Rose” (1986). His autobiography, “The Winged Seed: A Remembrance” (1995), has been called “a literary event — a work of memory and myth” (Phoenix Gazette).
He is the winner of numerous awards, including the William Carlos Williams Award, the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award, the Lannan Literary Award, the Whiting Writer’s Award, and three Pushcart Prizes.
In a review of Lee’s latest book, “Behind My Eyes,” Publisher’s Weekly noted, “Lee’s ringing clarity and his compelling life story have brought him uncommonly loyal readers: this volume should swell their ranks.”
In this extended interview, Li-Young Lee reflects on his sense of home, how he finds it in Chicago and in poems, and on his family, who came to the United States as political refugees.
Li-Young shares some of his poems from his most recent collection.