Excerpt from The Sun Interview August 2005
The “problem of problems,” as Sigmund Freud put it, is the ethical problem:right and wrong, good and bad. If a poet doesn't tackle this problem, doesn't face it down and come to a conclusion, then he or she is just making knickknacks, just decorating. I believe the only possible ethical consciousness is one that accounts for the whole human being, that doesn't leave any of it out-and this is precisely what poetry can achieve.On a social scale, this would be a government that accounts for all of its population---the poor, the rich, women, men, children, old people, black white. Poetry is a way to integrate all of who we are:the saint, the murderer, all of it.
There are plenty of people cutting themselves, killing themselves, drinking themselves to death.I believe the practice of poetry can help us move toward loving all of who we are.It can help us become more comfortable with things in ourselves that we don't like.
Questioner: What about people who only read poetry?
Lee: That would be like only having heard about the burning bush.You've got to write poetry. If you just read it, then you can only hear about the burning bush, but if you write it, then you sit inside the burning bush.I have friends who say, “The only people who read poetry are people who write it.” I think, Well of course.And everybody should be writing it.