Books and Sample Poems
Click on cover image to order
Scar and Flower (available now!)
Word Poetry Press, January 2019
This is an incredible, luminous and most serious investigation, of being, of human suffering, of war and peace — of the factories of violence and the notebook of enlightenments. We deepen into spirit and lives lost. Lee is concerned with the turning of beauty, the intimacy of death and the boundlessness of small moments, “the broken body of a tiny bird,” fragments that can change a life. Glitterings of light, planetary systems, electric skies available and unavailable. He is the “form rider” of hope. A stellar project, here. Rare and gifted, a timely arrival. Life-deep brilliance.
---Juan Felipe Herrera
Poet Laureate of the United States 2015-2017
Lee Herrick is a poet of the ecstatic. In this collection, he reminds us that the body has its own light-filled astronomy, that the body is also a torrent of terror and desire. Here are furious elegies about the way America is on fire with its bombs and guns and false prayers. Herrick gathers stray echoes, a myriad of birds, the motherless ocean, and much more into A stellar project, here. Rare and gifted, a timely arrival. Life-deep brilliance. And yet, so much love, because grief is a coin spent in the currency of love. This poet is an unapologetic patriot in the vast country of love, a place of abundance in the aching language of both scars and flowers.
---Sun Yung Shin
Lee Herrick’s visionary, ocean-hearted third collection stares down the forces sweeping through North America—and dares to listen to the howl. Here is the father dreaming despite daily violence in a country under siege. Scar and Flower crosses continents and oceans, translates moonlight, and reckons with what it means to be alive, and lost, and in love with fire-light at the beginning of the 21st century. From bullets to bonfires, daughter-love and a farmer’s ars poetica, the landscapes conjured here haunt our waking dreams, much like the boy with a gun who wanders, painfully, through these pages. All the while, Herrick’s singular voice and vision propels us forward—sound over sound, rose over rose—as if to say: motion is resistance, and listening, the one true act of grace. A mighty, tender, and fearless book from a poet at the height of his powers.
Gardening Secrets of the Dead
WordTech Editions, November 2012
These gorgeously rendered snapshots--a disarming fusion of lyric and meticulous narrative--are clearly the work of a true storyteller, a master of focus and fearlessness. There is a whole life lurking within these stanzas, a life that Herrick masterfully unreels in his role as witness, during which he manages to be both the "other" and all of us. If there was even a modicum of doubt about this poet's enviable talent, or his place among those who've crafted a singular creative signature, Gardening Secrets of the Dead will lay that indecision to rest.
--- Patricia Smith
Lee Herrick’s Gardening Secrets of the Dead is a lyric exploration of the fractured and fragmented landscape of the self, where the body is a song composed of many selves. Whitman revised, the poems “celebrate and assemble/ from around the world” with a voice that is politically engaged and rooted in compassion. Gardening Secrets of the Dead is a wise, gorgeous book—one steeped in the deeply human process of living in what is often an untenable world, where we are instructed to “breathe as if your chest is an ocean.” A poet’s poet, Herrick’s work is a gift for us all.
--- Brian Turner
In this illuminated collection of poems, Lee Herrick’s tempered, yet fearless, voice presents us with a contemplative space—fertile earth—in which to gather the tiny crystals of our life and piece them back into the light inherent in us all. Because there is light here, in each well-crafted line, in the departures and returns, the remembering and the letting go, every last letter a tender “gift of rage and lilacs.” Here is a poet in love with the world—its failures, fires and faith—and Gardening Secrets of the Dead is his testimony.
--- Tim Z. Hernandez
Click on cover image to order
This Many Miles from Desire
WordTech Editions, 2007
The universal sadness, almost Sufi-like, and the timeless compassion these poems articulate make it possible for a reader to believe that any "I" must include the whole world, inside and out, bliss and pain, broken and whole. I love these poems.
— Li-Young Lee
Lived poetry of the living world, where the ocean is Buddha and grandmothers surface between what is and what might be. Lee is a poet of exceptional control and breathtaking grace, who is unafraid to go for the leaps of word and heart. This new poet will keep poetry alive. I've been waiting for this book.
— Lorna Dee Cervantes
Lee's poems bend towards light, towards a higher grace beyond words. Here is a collection of wise, heartfelt, honest poems that feel like songs, sad songs you play alone at midnight to remind your soul to live. Yes. Live. It will be one of my new travel bibles to take on the road, to comfort me when I get weary, to remind me that what we are doing is priceless and soulful and necessary as prayer. Bless you, Lee, for this beautiful music.
— Ishle Yi Park
Lee Herrick's poems celebrate the ability to make a life in the awkward space between worlds, where we find ourselves "not quite the rose / but not quite the roots." In settings as diverse as Korea, Latin America, and Fresno, California, the poems speak of the emotional experience of being adopted, of one man's search for identity, of the problem of abandonment – but most of all, they speak of the constancy of love. There is no blame or bitterness here at all. These are songs of grace and acceptance and joy, and they invite us to open our arms and embrace the complexities of our own unstable worlds. This is a poet with enormous talent and a large and generous heart.
— Corrinne Clegg Hales
Lee Herrick's debut collection, This Many Miles from Desire, makes you stop and think about everything you've assumed before. As a Korean adoptee, Herrick stretches, deepens, and illuminates our previous notions of mother (both maternal and national identity), father, God, lover. The poems which emanate from the poet's Fresno home to journeys to Seoul, China, Southeast Asia, Latin America, radiate a lovely sensuality grounded in an earthy, humbling wisdom. In the book's closing lines, Herrick talks about the sacred – as in "the moment when she touched / your bare arm for the first time, her fingers / like cool flashes of heaven."
— Amy Uyematsu
One for the Money: The Sentence as Poetic Form, Edited by Christopher Buckley and Gary Young. A Poetry Workshop and Handbook, this new anthology features poems from 80 poets, including Kay Ryan, Philip Levine, William Shakespeare, and John Keats. Lee's poem, "Korean Poet in California," appears.
Lynx House Press, 2012.
Highway 99: A Literary Journey Through California's great Central Valley, 2nd edition, Edited by Stan Yogi, Gayle Mak, and Patricia Wakida. The popular anthology features poetry and prose from writers including William Saroyan, Maxine Hong Kingston, Larry Levis, Gary Soto, and Juan Felipe Herrera. Lee's poem, "In the Tower District," appears.
Heyday Books, 2007.
SAMPLE POEMS ONLINE
"The Birds Outside My Window Sing During a Pandemic," MiGoZine. March 2020.
The Poetry Foundation. Five poems ("My California," "The Impossible Replication of Desire," "Three Dreams of Korea: Notes on Adoption," "How to Spend a Birthday," and "What Is Sacred")
From the Fishouse, Six Poems (including "Salvation") and Q & A, with audio, 2008