Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Li-Young Lee  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Poetry

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesia

-- Li-Young Lee on The Poetry Foundation --
-- Website --
-- Li-Young Lee on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Lee moved to Chicago after graduate school and still resides there.

Biographical and Professional Information

Li-Young Lee is writer and educator. He taught at Northwestern University, University of Iowa, University of Oregon, and University of Texas at Austin. He is a member of advisory board, Poetry Center of Chicago.Known for his poetry about childhood, spirituality and immigrant dreams, Lee was born in 1957 in Jakarta, Indonesia, of Chinese parents. In 1959, his father, after spending a year as a political prisoner in President Sukarno’s jails, fled Indonesia with his family. Between 1959 and 1964 they traveled in Hong Kong, Macau, and Japan, before arriving in western Pennsylvania where Lee was raised. He moved to Chicago to take up writing after doing graduate work at the University of Arizona and the University of New York at Brockport.Lee is the author of four critically acclaimed books of poetry, his most recent being ''Behind My Eyes''. His earlier collections are ''Book of My Nights''; ''Rose'', winner of the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University; The City in Which I Love You, the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection; and a memoir entitled ''The Winged Seed: A Remembrance'', which received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. Lee's honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Lannan Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, as well as grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. In 1988 he received the Writer's Award from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Rose (New Poets of America)
ISBN: 0918526531

BOA Editions Ltd.. 1993

Table of Contents

The Gift
The Weight Of Sweetness
From Blossoms
Dreaming Of Hair
Early In The Morning
Falling: The Code
My Indigo
Eating Alone

Always A Rose

Eating Together
I Ask My Mother To Sing
Ash, Snow, Or Moonlight
The Life
The Weepers
Rain Diary
My Sleeping Loved Ones
Between Seasons
Visions And Interpretations

The City in Which I Love You (American Poets Continuum)
ISBN: 0918526833

BOA Editions Ltd.. 1990


Furious Versionis

The Interrogation
This Hour And What Is Dead
Arise, Go Down
My Father, In Heaven, Is Reading Out Loud
For A New Citizen Of These United States
With Ruins

This Room And Everything In It
The City In Which I Love You


The Waiting
A Story
You Must Sing
Here I Am
A Final Thing

The Cleaving

The Winged Seed: A Remembrance (American Readers Series)
ISBN: 1938160045

BOA Editions Ltd.. 2013

"It has true spiritual importance for contemporary American literature."—Edward Hirsch

Upon its initial publication, acclaimed poet Li-Young Lee's memoir The Winged Seed: A Remembrance (1995), received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. In lyrical prose, Lee's extraordinary story begins in the 1950s when his parents fled China's political turmoil for Indonesia. Along with many other Chinese members of the population, his family was persecuted under President Sukarno. Falsely accused and charged for crimes against the state, his father spent a year and a half in jail as a political prisoner, half of that time in a leper colony. While his entire family was being transported to a prison colony, they escaped and fled to Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and back to Hong Kong where his father rose to prominence as an evangelical preacher. Eventually, the family sought asylum in the United States in 1962. When the author was six, they emigrated to a small town in western Pennsylvania where his father became a Presbyterian minister. This reissued edition contains a new foreword by the author and never-before-seen photos of the family from different stages of their journey.

Li-Young Lee is the author of four critically acclaimed books of poetry that have garnered such awards as the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University

the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection

the Writer's Award from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation

and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Lannan Foundation, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Book of My Nights (American Poets Continuum)
ISBN: 1929918070

BOA Editions Ltd.. 2001

The long-awaited new poetry collection from one of the world's most acclaimed young poets.

Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee (American Readers Series)
ISBN: 1929918828

BOA Editions Ltd.. 2006

In the foreword to Li-Young Lee’s first book, Rose (BOA Editions, 1986), Gerald Stern wrote, “What characterizes Li-Young Lee’s poetry is a certain kind of humility, a kind of cunning, a love of plain speech, a search for wisdom and understanding. . . . I think we are in the presence of a true spirit.” Poetry lovers agree! Rose has gone on to sell more than eighty thousand copies, and Li-Young Lee has become one of the country’s most beloved poets.

Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee is a collection of the best dozen interviews given by Li-Young Lee over the past twenty years. From a twenty-nine-year-old poet prodigy to a seasoned veteran in high demand for readings and appearances across the United States and abroad, these interviews capture Li-Young Lee at various stages of his artistic development. He not only discusses his family’s flight from political oppression in China and Indonesia, but how that journey affected his poetry and the engaging, often painful, insights being raised a cultural outsider in America afforded him. Other topics include spirituality (primarily Christianity and Buddhism) and a wide range of aesthetic topics such as literary influences, his own writing practices, the role of formal and informal education in becoming a writer, and his current life as a famous and highly sought-after American poet.

From Blossoms (Bloodaxe World Poets) (Bloodaxe World Poets)
ISBN: 1852246987

Bloodaxe Books Ltd. 2007

Behind My Eyes: Poems
ISBN: 0393334813

W. W. Norton & Company. 2009

“Lee’s lyrics have a tidal sweep as he moves between the universe within and the world without.” ―Booklist, starred review


''The Rose''

Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award, New York University, 1986''The City in Which I Love You''

Lamont Poetry Selection, The Academy of American Poets, 1990 ''The Winged Seed: A Remembrance''

American Book Award, Before Columbus Foundation, 1995'''Other Awards:'''

I.B. Lavin Award, 1986

Writer’s Award, Whiting Foundation, 1988

Illinois Author of the Year, Illinois Association of Teachers of English, 2009

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