Arthur Sze’s Sight Lines wins 2019 National Book Award in Poetry

Sight Lines by Arthur Sze, published in April 2019 by Copper Canyon Press, has won the 2019 National Book Award in Poetry. The decision was announced Wednesday, November 20th at the 70th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner in New York City. Of the five Finalists for the National Book Award in Poetry, two were Copper Canyon Press titles: Jericho Brown’s The Tradition and Arthur Sze’s Sight Lines. Sze’s Award confirms what Publishers Weekly stated in their review of Sight Lines: “Sze’s free verse emphasizes at once how difficult, and how necessary, it is for us to imagine our world as a system whose ecologies and societies require us to care for all their interdependent parts.” 

Photo credit: National Book Foundation

In his aptly titled 10th collection, Sight Lines, Arthur Sze lends the reader his prismatic lens, rendering contemporary reality in stunning complexity. Moments of grace, eros, and beauty are braided with shudders of terror and threats of ecological destruction as Sze moves adeptly through intersections of the disparate and divergent. Using formal disruption, legible erasure, and a diversity of voices—lichen on a ceiling, salt on the table, a man behind on his rent—each page transmutes simplicity into simultaneity, and chaos into compelling song. Sze is a Pulitzer-recognized, widely-revered poet whose exquisite craft continues to expand and deepen our view. 

Sze’s award puts him in the company of fellow Copper Canyon Press poets Ben Lerner, W.S. Merwin, Ruth Stone, and Hayden Carruth, all of whom won the Award, and C.D. Wright, James Richardson, Jericho Brown, and John Balaban, all of whom were finalists for the Award.

Michael Wiegers, Editor-In-Chief at Copper Canyon Press stated, “For nearly five decades, Arthur Sze has been writing a distinctive poetry unlike any other on the American landscape. It is gratifying to see him honored with this national recognition. Sight Lines extends and improves upon the inclusive poetics which have been at the heart of his writing for so many years. I’m so grateful that the literary community is giving this honor to a poet who has been so generously engaged with others throughout his entire career as a writer.”

To learn more about the National Book Foundation and to see the Winners in all five categories please visit