Award Winners

2021 Shelley Memorial Award

Arthur Sze


Selected by Ben Olguín and Vijay Seshadri

The nets of awareness Arthur Sze casts across the world are large and light and buoyant. Their mesh is fine, but they also have tremendous flexibility and tensile strength and can stretch and stretch and stretch and stretch. They gather in assemblages of reality astonishingly various in kind and size. In Sze’s poems, multitudes of oppositions—between a spare and a baroque sensibility, between minute particulars and large general truths, between the experimental and the perennial, between concretion and abstraction, between image and sound, between the quotidian and the eternal—are composed and reconciled through a subtle, ever-present, ever-active interweaving of perception, apperception, and piercing insight.

The Poetry Society of America is proud to honor him with the 2021 Shelley Memorial Award. Arthur Sze was born in New York in 1950. He has published eleven books of poetry, the first when he was twenty-two and the latest in 2021. Sze has received innumerable accolades and awards, and is recognized as a master of his craft. Sze’s vision of American poetry is expansive. He is in dialogue with a wide range of poetic traditions, from the Chinese to Native American oral traditions to Southern Cone poets such as Pablo Neruda, and is a paragon of late-twentieth and twenty-first-century poetics.


All Winners

2020

2014

Bernadette Mayer

2013

Lucia Perillo
Martín Espada

2012

Wanda Coleman

2011

Rigoberto González
Joan Larkin

2010

Kenneth Irby
Eileen Myles

2009

Ron Padgett
Gary Young

2008

Ed Roberson

2007

Kimiko Hahn

2006

George Stanley

2005

Lyn Hejinian

2004

Yusef Komunyakaa

2003

James McMichael

2002

Angela Jackson
Marie Ponsot

2001

Alice Notley
Michael Palmer

2000

Jean Valentine

1999

Tom Sleigh

1998

Eleanor Ross Taylor

1997

Frank Bidart

1996

Robert Pinsky
Anne Waldman

1995

Stanley Kunitz

1994

Kenneth Koch
Cathy Song

1993

Josephine Jacobsen

1992

Lucille Clifton

1991

Shirley Kaufman

1990

Thom Gunn

1989

Thomas McGrath
Theodore Weiss

1988

Dennis Schmitz

1987

Mona Van Duyn

1986

Gary Snyder

1985

Etheridge Knight

1984

Robert Duncan
Denise Levertov

1983

Jon Anderson
Leo Connellan

1982

Alan Dugan

1981

Robert Creeley

1980

Julia Randall

1979

Robert Hayden