May/Summer 2002

An Interview with Li-Young Lee

Marie Jordan

Li-Young Lee's great grandfather, Yuan Shikai served as China's first republican president from 1912 to 1916 and tried to establish himself as emperor. Lee's father, Lee Kuo Yuan, a profound and religious Christian, was a physician under the Nationalist Chinese during China's civil war. He was physician to Communist leader Mao Tse-Tung. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Lee's parents escaped to Indonesia where Li-Young was born in 1957. His father helped found Gamaliel University, a college of religious thought, and was arrested by the Indonesian dictator Sukarno and jailed as a political prisoner. He spent more than a year tortured in prisons and finally escaped with his family to Hong Kong, then to Japan, and finally to the United States where he spent the remainder of his life ministering and preaching the Christian faith. Li-Young's first book of poetry, Rose, won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Poetry Award in l987. The City in Which I Love You was the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets. Other honors include grants from the Illinois Arts Council, The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a fellowship by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and a Writer's Award from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. His first poetry collection in 11 years, Book of My Nights, has just been released by BOA Editions.


An Interview with Les Standiford

Steve Glassman

Les Standiford is the founding director of the MFA program at Florida International University in Miami, which has been called one of the ten best writing programs in the country by The Dictionary of Literary Biography. He holds a PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of Utah and has published nine novels, including Bone Key (Putnam, April 2002) and several works of narrative nonfiction, including Last Train to Paradise (Crown, September 2002). He has been awarded fellowships from the NEA and the Florida Cultural Affairs Council for his novels. Before coming to FIU, he founded and directed the writing program at the University of Texas at El Paso.


An Interview with Jayne Anne Phillips

Sarah Anne Johnson

Jayne Anne Phillips was born and raised in West Virginia. Her first book of stories, Black Tickets, won the prestigious Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction. Machine Dreams, Phillips's first novel, a New York Times best-seller, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was chosen by the New York Times Book Review as one of the 12 Best Books of the Year. She is also the author of a second book of stories, Fast Lanes, a novel, Shelter, which was awarded an Academy Award in Literature by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and chosen as one of the Best Books of the Year by Publishers Weekly. Her most recent novel, Motherkind, was nominated for Britain's prestigious Orange Prize. Her books are available as Vintage Paperbacks.


Literary Couples

Tom Nawrocki

You open the book flipping past the title page, and there it is: the dedication. More often than not, it is several heartfelt lines directed at a husband or wife who held back the world for a few hours at a time. The hard work of writing doesn't get done by itself: all writers with families know this.