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Sight Lines

by Arthur Sze

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
471422,589 (3.88)6
"From the current phenomenon of drawing calligraphy with water in public parks in China to Thomas Jefferson laying out dinosaur bones on the White House floor, from the last sighting of the axolotl to a man who stops building plutonium triggers, Sight Lines moves through space and time and brings the disparate and divergent into stunning and meaningful focus. In this new work, Arthur Sze employs a wide range of voices--from lichen on a ceiling to a man behind on his rent--and his mythic imagination continually evokes how humans are endangering the planet; yet, balancing rigor with passion, he seizes the significant and luminous and transforms these moments into riveting and enduring poetry.… (more)
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» See also 6 mentions

Many poems in this collection focus on New Mexico, where Sze currently lives. He does a magnificent job with the desert, the seasons, fire, water. Other poems reflect his Chinese heritage, and others have to do with travel. Relationships, the passage of time, cooking, cars, and daily life exist within the same poems.

Peonies, mushrooms, and spotted towhees show up in multiple poems.

This is the last of the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry finalists for me, and this is the winner. It wasn't my favorite of the five, but was a solid 2nd or 3rd favorite for me. ( )
  Dreesie | Jan 14, 2020 |
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"From the current phenomenon of drawing calligraphy with water in public parks in China to Thomas Jefferson laying out dinosaur bones on the White House floor, from the last sighting of the axolotl to a man who stops building plutonium triggers, Sight Lines moves through space and time and brings the disparate and divergent into stunning and meaningful focus. In this new work, Arthur Sze employs a wide range of voices--from lichen on a ceiling to a man behind on his rent--and his mythic imagination continually evokes how humans are endangering the planet; yet, balancing rigor with passion, he seizes the significant and luminous and transforms these moments into riveting and enduring poetry.

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