"For me, all the work precedes the actual writing of the poem and requires a kind of supplication, assuming a vulnerable posture, keeping open. It’s like prayer. I think one has to do a lot of struggling before one actually kneels and says the words. Then after that, of course, there’s a lot of revision; but I do a lot of reading and mental, spiritual, and emotional struggling before I actually come to the page.
When I do get to the page, it usually begins with a line that I can’t make any sense of. Then I write to find out what that line means. I hate to sound as if language doesn’t refer to something. In fact, I come to the page with certain experiences and intentions, but the poem begins to happen in a line, and I write to understand that.”
— Li-Young Lee, “Li-Young Lee” (an interview with Li-Young Lee by Bill Moyers), The Language of Life: A Festival of Poets by Bill Moyers