26 September 2006

Li-Young Lee

[from a Poetry Daily Prose Feature]

I think the narrative-lyric mode is basically one in which the audience is behind a curtain so the dialogue is with your own divinity, and the audience overhears it. When you're reading a poem, the feeling is always that you're overhearing somebody speak to himself, which is some bigger part of himself, or to some totality of himself, or herself, or to God. So what we're actually witnessing, for instance, in Lorca is his wrestling with duende and Emily Dickinson is wrestling with God and mortality, with Whitman it's God and America, but it's always an other thing – America, God, mortality, duende. It's always some demon, daimon, divine figure. It's a triaxial state of affairs: you have the poet, the poet's demon, and the audience as witness. I think it's only seldom that they're actually addressed. I think it's very seldom that I'm actually writing to an audience. I'm usually enacting my own demon.

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