The Winged Seed: A Remembrance (1995) is a memoir of Li-Young Lee’s family’s life in Jakarta, Indonesia, their years in exile, and their adaptation to life in a small Pennsylvania town. He remembers how the family suffered when his father was placed in prison for his political views. Acting out of love and loyalty, his mother spent endless hours waiting in lines outside the prison gates trying to see her husband. In her absence, the responsibility for the safety of the home and family rested on the shoulders of Lee’s sister Fei, who guarded the house from the threat of looters and corrupt government officials. Most important, Lee focuses on his love for his father, love and respect mingled with fear, as he was often beaten by his father. Lee struggles to piece together his own memories of his past as well as the stories told to him by his parents. Moving between confusing and often painful images of his past and the present safety of his life with his wife and children, Lee blends history and present narrative as he seeks to make sense of his life.
Breaking the Alabaster Jar: Conversations with Li-Young Lee (2006) is a collection of interviews with the author, edited by Earl G. Ingersoll. The twelve interviews cover a span of twenty years and highlight Lee’s development as a poet and his interaction with fellow poets, critics, and university students. Important themes of Lee’s poetry are discussed, as is the influence of his extraordinary life on his writing. Altogether, the collection sheds a warm and welcoming light on the work of Lee as an accomplished poet. It offers valuable background information on many of his favorite poems and themes.