Arthur Sze wins 2013 Jackson Poetry Prize

Arthur Sze“Everything can happen in the teeming space of a stanza by Arthur Sze; almost everything does. The profane and the glorious are never far apart; more often than not they are contained in the same couplet. And the extraordinary invariably manifests itself in the ordinary or as he writes, “Revelation never comes as a fern uncoiling/a frond in mist; it comes when I trip on a root,/slap a mosquito on my arm.” Sze specializes in the serial or linked poem. He specializes in irresoluble contradictions and the simultaneity of their circumstance. He is deft with improbable metamorphoses. He is undeterred from the uninflected actual, “When//Robin’s coworkers were terminated, she left/ her communications job to groom horses.” Little escapes his attention, be it a particular mushroom camouflaged in the forest floor or light lifting off the length of a power line while a sous-chef slices ginger and scallions. All that is teeming is specific and nothing is unrelated. His “mind aligns such slivers.” Sze is hyper-awake to a chance that a petal may tip the balance of life; to the fact that “we cannot act if we are asleep.” Through eight collections of poetry,translations of Chinese poetry and the recently edited Chinese Writers on Writing, Arthur Sze has proven to be one of our most patient, painstaking, and prepared observers. The impression of land and sky on mind and mind on the mess we tend to make of things is seldom brought to such an exquisite degree of awareness. In exacting language, Sze has brought his gleaming perceptions and looming concerns to a rare quality of order.”