Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy
cathy_edgett

Writing Poetry - words of Li-Young Lee

Divine & Human
Li-Young Lee
Excerpt from The Sun Interview August 2005
Part 2

I think a deep orderedness permeates all phenomena; call that orderedness 'God,' or 'Tao,' or 'the vast hand of Buddha' --- whatever your Jewish mother or Buddhist father called it.I believe poetry is grounded in this order. But here's something I've been troubled by lately: I think there is only one subject.It makes me nervous to say it, but this subject is the 'I.' Now either the 'I' is very deep and embedded in a bigger 'I,' or it's just this tiny little 'I,' floating around like a piece of confetti.I'm not referring to the ego, nor do I mean to imply that we humans are the only thing.But every time we experience a poem or a piece of art, the real subject is the 'I.'What art can do is give us a version of the 'I' that is manifold and deep, that has both divine and human content.When I say 'divine and human,' it sounds as if they were separate, but they're not.It would be more correct to say 'divine in human.'

I feel that the poems are addressed to an “all”: the stars, the trees, the birds -- everything.When I'm writing a poem, I feel as if the whole future of the universe depended on that poem. Of course, I laugh as I say this, but I do feel this way. Somebody asked Gerald Stern after 9/11 if he could write a poem for the occasion. He responded:“I already did. It's all I have been doing.” In a way, every poem is written at Ground Zero.Yehuda Amichai said, “Every poem I write takes all of human history into consideration, all the atrocities, all the good stuff, and it's the last poem I'm going to write.” So there you are, writing at Ground Zero all the time.The audience is everything: birds, trees, stars, women, children, men, grandmothers, aunts, uncles. Everybody is
listening.
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