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The Redshifting Web, 1970-1998: New and Selected Poems

The Redshifting Web, 1970-1998: New and Selected Poems

by Arthur Sze

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A comprehensive collection by one of the most intensely musical and visionary poets writing today.


A comprehensive collection by one of the most intensely musical and visionary poets writing today.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Spare and declarative, Sze's poems make an indirect case for the connectedness of ideas and objects, of cultural past and personal present. In "Viewing Photographs of China" the poet accurately characterizes his modus operandi: "And instead of insisting that/ the world have an essence, we/ juxtapose, as in a collage,/ facts, ideas, images." Sze is at his strongest in this new and selected collection when working imagistically, offering brief, lucid descriptions of striking tableaus that display their intellectual roots almost coyly: "As a stone drops into a pool and red koi// swim toward the point of impact, we set/ a yarrow stalk aside and throw `Duration,'// glimpse a spiral of bats ascend out of a cave;/ one by one they flare off into indigo air." His deeply considered visions of the nature-culture bind draw on the complexities of Chinese-American affiliation, and seemingly on Sze's experiences teaching at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He handles culturally talismanic material with careful, absorbing disinterest: "here skid marks on I-25 mark a head-on collision;/ ...here a man writes in grass style: huan wo he shan;/ ...here a dog drags a horse's leg back from the arroyo." As in his wonderful translations of classical Chinese poetry, the sureness of Sze's language and the clarity of his eye present a compelling picture of a world whose wholeness must be taken on faith. (May) FYI: Sze was recently awarded $105,000 by the Lila Wallace Readers Digest Foundation to promote and teach poetry in the Southwest.
Library Journal
Winner of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts, among others, Sze (Archipelago, Copper Canyon, 1995) is a second-generation Chinese American poet who has taught for more than a decade at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. This volume includes selections from his previous five books plus a generous assortment of new poems. Sze's poetry may well be far too elusive for those demanding a poem to mean as well as be. In one poem, we are encouraged to "cultivate private languages," and in another a "broken radio" is preferred over the TV news. As Sze characterizes his method: "you knock the/ gyroscope off the axis of spinning,/ so that one orientation in the world vanishes/ and the others appear infinite." These "other" orientations often yield a bewildering kaleidoscope of images that challenge coherence, though Sze helps some by suggesting that "the mind magnetizes/ everything it touches. A knife in a dog/ has nothing to do/ with the carburetor of an engine: to all appearances,/ to all appearances." Not for everyone, but libraries with good modern poetry collections should consider.--Thomas F. Merrill, Univ. of Delaware

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Copper Canyon Press
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5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Arthur Sze is the author of nine books of poetry and translation. He is emeritus professor of Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts, former poet laureate of Santa Fe, and a corresponding editor for Manoa. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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