Ed Bok Lee Recommends...

“Translating poems from Korean or Russian into English really increases the molecules of sound and sense in my head, makes me feel more attuned. Yorkshire Gold tea when good coffee isn’t available, and many books and works of art and music work for me too. But sometimes, if things aren’t going well, I’ll start reading a book that I both truly admire and, for whatever reasons, can’t get engaged with. After reading for a while, my mind gets pitched into the perfect state for a new creative act. It feels cleansed. I like to think this is connected to my fundamental reverence for books, which at some irrational level I feel are each and every one sacred. Someone was, at some level, having a sacred conversation with themselves, or, more precisely, trying to resolve a quarrel deep within and employing sacred methods in the creation of this book. And so, when I’m reading a book I truly admire but that never manages to engage me, the world just feels slightly off. I go into a mode of needing to make what I’m doing on my own page work, to try, try to get things back into alignment.”
­­—Ed Bok Lee, author of Mitochondrial Night (Coffee House Press, 2019)