Born in New York City in 1950, Arthur Sze is a second-generation Chinese American. Educated at the University of California, Berkeley, Sze is the author of eight books of poetry, including The Ginkgo Light (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), Quipu (2005), The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998 (1998), and Archipelago (1995). Other collections by Sze include River River (1987), Dazzled (1982), Two Ravens (1976; revised, 1984), and The Willow Wind (1972; revised, 1981).
He is also a celebrated translator from the Chinese, and released The Silk Dragon: Translations from the Chinese in 2001.
About his work, Jackson Mac Low has said, "The word 'compassion' is much overused—'clarity' less so—but Arthur Sze is truly a poet of clarity and compassion." Speaking about Sze's contributions to the art of poetry Naomi Shihab Nye has said, "Arthur Sze's work has long been a nourishing tonic for the mind—presences of the natural world, wide consciousness, and time, combine in exquisitely shaped and weighted lines and stanzas to create a poetry of deep attunement and lyrical precision. Sze's ongoing generous exchange with Asian poets and devotion to translation in collections such as The Silk Dragon, enriches the canon of world poetry immeasurably."
He is the recipient of a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Book Award, a Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, two National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing fellowships, a George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation Fellowship, three grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, and a Western States Book Award for Translation.
He was a Visiting Hurst Professor at Washington University, a Doenges Visiting Artist at Mary Baldwin College and has conducted residencies at Brown University, Bard College, and Naropa University. Sze was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2012, is a professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and is the first poet laureate of Santa Fe. In 2013 he was awarded the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers magazine.