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This review is taken from PN Review 261, Volume 48 Number 1, September - October 2021.

Cover of The Glass Constellation: New and Collected Poems
Bonnie CostelloArthur Sze, The Glass Constellation: New and Collected Poems (Copper Canyon Press) $35.00
‘Entanglement’, the second of the new poems at the end of Arthur Sze’s four-decade collection, begins as a mood piece. The ‘you’ pronoun brings the reader in close to ‘listen for deer beyond / the gate’, to ‘toss another yellow cedar log / into the woodstove on the float house’, to observe ‘a great blue heron’ as it ‘flaps its wings, / settles on the railing.’ There are many such moments of serenity in Sze’s work, seemingly unremarkable scenes of pleasurable living, domesticity in tune with nature, when we ‘put aside the newspaper, soak strawberry plants in a garden bed’. But such moments are almost always interrupted by remote and often dissonant images, reverberations from a wider and deeper web of existence. ‘When you least expect it, your field / of vision tears, and an underlying landscape / reveals a radiating moment of time.’ As particle physicists know and this poet helps us feel, the ‘earth under our feet’ is itself a ‘float house’ rocked by distant tides.

This idea of ‘entanglement’, though it goes by different names, underlies much of Sze’s poetry, and gives it at once ontological, moral, and scientific dimensions. The poet who began his education at MIT understands that the world is not a collection of discrete, solid objects, but a trembling web, a structure of relations of surprising, non-contingent correlations and impacts. Sze’s particular locality has been for many years Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he was Director of the Museum of Native American Arts, and where he still makes his home. As a learned naturalist, gardener and ...


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