vocalisms #17: Li-Young Lee


vocalisms is a regular feature that presents selected tracks from voca, the Poetry Center's online audio video library of more than 800 recorded readings, spanning from 1963 to today.

photo of Li-Young Lee

When listening to a reading, I’m often tempted to skip the question and answer session. Q&A’s are a precarious space: they’re unscripted and unmediated, and they can sometimes wander into strange territory. But so often the territory they cover includes the best kind of strangeness, where writers dig into their craft and the beliefs that underlie their approach to writing and the world. In this Q&A session (begins at 33:05) from his 2003 reading, Li-Young Lee discusses ideas including the pull between pattern-making and chance in poetry, art as apocalypse, and the yogic quality of attention poetry embodies. Lee answers the audience’s questions with the same winning mix of self-deprecating humor and profundity that he displays throughout the full reading.