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Arthur Sze papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 1261

Content Description

The collection consists of correspondence, writings, personal papers, photographs, audio and video recordings, digital files, and other papers related to the life and career of poet Arthur Sze.

Materials including notes, drafts, and manuscripts document Sze’s work as a poet, writer, editor, and translator, and provide insight into his creative process. Extensive correspondence reveals his professional relationships with other writers in the United States and abroad, particularly his ties to the American Southwest poetry community and his work with Chinese writers and translators. Correspondents include Jay Wright, Toi Derricotte, Claudia Rankine, Quincy Troupe, Joy Harjo, Leslie Marmon Silko, Simon J. Ortiz, Xi Chuan, Michael Wiegers, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Barbara Guest, James Schevill, Layli Long Soldier, Sherwin Bitsui, and Allison Hedge Coke. The collection spans the years 1950-2016, with the bulk of the material dating from 1972-2016.


  • 1950 - 2016
  • Majority of material found within 1972 - 2016


Language of Materials

In English and Chinese.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Box 101-103 (digital media): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies of electronic files may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Box 104-105 (audiovisual materials): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Arthur Sze Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Granary Books, Inc. on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2016.


Organized into five series: I. Correspondence, 1977-2016. II. Writings, 1972-2016. III. Personal Papers, 1950-2016. IV. Photographs, 1978-2015. V. Computer and Audiovisual Media, 1989-2015.


56.4 Linear Feet (105 boxes)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

Arthur Sze (1950-)

Arthur Sze is an American poet, translator, editor and professor. He was born in New York City in 1950 to Chinese immigrants. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1972 with a B.A. in poetry, where he also studied classical Chinese. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including his debut The Willow Wind (1972), The Gingko Light (2009), and Compass Rose (2014), which was a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize. His most recent work, Sight Lines (2019), was awarded the National Book Award. Sze’s poetry has also been featured in numerous anthologies, including Premonitions: The Kaya Anthology of New Asian North American Poetry (1995), Verse & Universe: Poems about Science and Mathematics (1998), and New Poets of the American West (2010).

While Sze is best known as an English-language poet, he is also an accomplished Chinese translator. He translated a book of Chinese poetry, The Silk Dragon: Translations from the Chinese (2001) and published a bilingual Chinese-English book in Beijing, Pig’s Heaven Inn (2014). He also served as an editor of Chinese Writers on Writing (2010), a collection of works by contemporary Chinese writers and poets.

Sze’s poetry is influenced by his Chinese ancestry and his study of classical Chinese language, as well as his experiences living in New Mexico. His work draws from diverse sources of inspiration such as the landscape of the American Southwest, Chinese philosophy, and scientific imagery. His awards include two National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships in 1982 and 1993, the American Book Award in 1996, the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1997, and the Jackson Poetry Prize in 2013. He was recognized as the first poet laureate of Santa Fe in 2006, a title he held until 2008, and served as Chancellor of the American Academy of Poets from 2012 to 2017.

Sze has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for over forty-five years. In addition to his poetry career, he is Professor Emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts, where he taught for twenty-two years.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections as they are acquired, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and minimal organization.

Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Arthur Sze Papers
by Nora Soto
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.