Lee explores the interaction of humans and the natural world in his poetry, depicting rural landscapes and lives and often employing a rural American dialect. His collection So Quietly the Earth (2004) portrays the lands of the American Southwest.
David Lee has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award in Poetry and the Western States Book Award in Poetry. The first poet laureate of Utah, Lee received the Utah Governor’s Award for lifetime achievement in the arts. He taught for many years at Southern Utah State University.