cover image Sight Lines

Sight Lines

Arthur Sze. Copper Canyon, $16 (80p) ISBN 978-1-55659-559-2

The tenth book from Sze (Compass Rose) contains poems in a range of forms, from hybrid prose poems to luminous lyric fragments, gracefully unified by a preoccupation with transformation. He considers all that is ephemeral in nature—an “actor’s face changing” or “pomegranate trees flowering along a highway”—calling attention to the inherent instability of language and the self. Sze artfully matches style and content, the poems changing shape as the book unfolds. He observes, for instance, that “you dissolve midnight and noon; sunlight/ tilts and leafs the tips of the far Norway maples.” The poem’s pristine couplets are transfigured in the next piece, “Sight Lines,” a narrative in single-line stanzas. Sze asserts, “though parallel lines touch in the infinite, the infinite is here.” The writing itself revels in the “infinite” refractions and reverberations of poetic technique, as possibilities are gradually unearthed through formal shifts. Sze asks, as though reflecting on the gorgeously layered experience he has created for the reader, “Where are we headed, you wonder, as you pick a lychee and start to peel it.” Finely crafted and philosophical, this is a book that rewards multiple careful readings. (Apr.)