Just as the compass rose points to the cardinal directions and is a psychic image and navigational symbol, Arthur Sze’s new poems chart the ever-shifting terrain of our dizzying, contemporary world with masterful precision, imaginative force, and deep emotion. In Compass Rose, he offers a significant departure from his previous books, employing multiple voices to guide us through wonderful and complicated perspectives. Sze’s poems reorient us and make us experience the ecologies of this world in full sensual detail.
“Compass Rose [is] a collection in which the poet uses capacious intelligence and lyrical power to offer a dazzling picture of our interconnected world.” —Pulitzer Prize finalist announcement
“If only a few books were to survive civilization’s collapse, were to stand as ‘poems of evidence’ that life once flourished, I would hope Arthur Sze’s to be among them.” —AGNI
“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… 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… All that is teeming is specific and nothing is unrelated… 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.'” —Judge’s citation, Jackson Poetry Prize, 2013