SIDDHARTHA ON FIRE by poet and essayist Arthur Solway, winner of the 2022 Swan Scythe Press Poetry Chapbook Prize!
Arthur Solway is a frequent contributor of reviews and cultural essays to Artforum, Frieze, and Art Asia Pacific magazines. Living and working in Shanghai, China for well over a decade, he was the founding director of James Cohan Gallery Shanghai, the first contemporary gallery from New York to establish itself in mainland China.
Tone, syntax, and evocative, indelible images are at the heart of Solway’s poems, international in scope and often in dialogue with works of art and literature. As poet Ilya Kaminsky has commented: “Solway’s poetry is full of knowledge of the world, New Delhi and Kabul, Istanbul and Athens are all
here. Here too are the patron saints of our literature—Emily Dickinson and Vasko Popa, John Keats, and Samuel Beckett.
Forrest Gander has commented about Solway’s book of poetry Friday Night, Shanghai (Finishing Line Press, 2023): “With their tight lyric tension and condensed but intricately musical syntax, Solway’s poems are so gemlike, they’ll make you ask yourself how it is that you didn’t already know this poet’s body of work.”
“Arthur Solway’s poetry is full of knowledge of the world, New Delhi and Kabul, Istanbul and Athens are all here. Here too are the patron saints of our literature — Emily Dickinson and Vasko Popa, John Keats and Beckett. Syntax that is as interested in metaphysics as it is in music is the instrument Solway uses to bring it all together, in lines where breath becomes a searing musical notation. I marvel at how in the book so full of the world it is somehow the most lonely poems that won’t let me go: open the book on pieces like 'A Matter of Faith' or 'What Is Not' and you will find yourself right in the 21st Century devotional moment, a space where negative theology is the spiritual seeker’s best friend. In those moments, perhaps his most desolate, Solway delivers the music that’s truest, I feel. The result is worth it, because he knows that 'there is no ordinary suffering' and that 'the world is the end of the world' and yet goes on, undeterred, 'again, repaired by a stranger’s kiss.' This is a very beautiful book.” —Ilya Kaminsky, author of Dancing in Odessa and Deaf Republic
Arthur Solway's poetry and essays have appeared in The Antioch Review, Barrow Street, BOMB, The London Magazine, Salmagundi, Southern Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, Tupelo Quarterly and elsewhere. His work has also been featured by the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day and Poetry Daily. A finalist for both the 2021 Donald Justice Prize in Poetry and the Anhinga Press Robert Dana Award, his critical reviews and cultural essays can be found in Artforum, Frieze, and ArtAsiaPacific magazines. Living as an expatriate in Shanghai for well over a decade, he was the founding director of the first contemporary art gallery from New York to establish itself in mainland China. A graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, he presently lives in Santa Cruz, California with his wife and daughter and is a poetry editor for The Shanghai Literary Review.