Synopses & Reviews
2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist
"Compass Rose [is] a collection in which the poet uses capacious intelligence and lyrical power to offer a dazzling picture of our inter-connected world."Pulitzer Prize finalist announcement
[Sze] brings together disparate realms of experienceastronomy, botany, anthropology, Taoismand observes their correspondences with an exuberant attentiveness."The New Yorker
A child playing a game, tea leaves resting in a bowl, an abandoned dog, a foot sticking out from a funeral pyre, an Afghan farmer pausing as mortars fire at the enemy: in Arthur Sze's tenth book, the world spins on many points of reference, unfolding with full sensuous detail.
Arthur Sze is the author of The Ginkgo Light (2009), Quipu (2005), and The Redshifting Web (1998). He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"Known for his ambitious and dazzling array of subject matter, Sze (The Gingko Light) exhibits a contemplative, image-based poetics in his ninth collection. Sze achieves a truly present tense in this book, weaving scenes of small, precise, and remarkably authentic actions throughout the poems, covering music, war, nuclear weapons, and comets, along with the 'tiny spider' that 'hangs a web between a fishing/ rod and a thermostat.' 'Vietnamese, English, Hindi/ and Spanish ozone the air' that suffuses these lines, as does a plethora of other languages and places. In his commitment to recognizing the activity of the world around him, Sze creates pauses between his long poems and series with untitled, aerated fragments; short catalogues of immediate, disparate actions that hang in the moment: 'Twitching before he plays a sarangi near the temple entrance, a blind man-' Never, not even in his more lyric, manic passages do we feel the poet giving in towards a typical, anxious post-modern voice. 'In this world,' Sze insists, 'we stare at a rotating needle// on a compass and locate / by closing our eyes.' Sze assures us, in fact, 'ardor is here-/ and to the writer of fragments, each fragment is a whole.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In Arthur Szes tenth collection, the poet uses crisp, graceful language of astronomy, biology, and music.
About the Author
Arthur Sze has published eight books of original poetry, including The Ginkgo Light (2009), Quipu (2005), and The Redshifting Web, as well as one book of Chinese poetry translations, The Silk Dragon (2001). The Ginkgo Light was selected for the PEN Southwest Book Award and the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association Book Award. He is the recipient of many honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing fellowships, a Howard Foundation fellowship, and grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry. His poems have been translated into a dozen languages, including Chinese, Dutch, and Spanish. A second-generation Chinese American, Sze was born in New York City and currently resides in Sante Fe, New Mexico. He was the first poet laureate of Sante Fe (2006-2008) and is currently a professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts. In 2012, he joined the Board of Chancellors at the Academy of American Poets.