Fiona Sze-Lorrain

  • France
  • 2019/2020
  • Abigail R. Cohen Fellow
Fiona Sze-Lorrain

Fiona Sze-Lorrain is a poet, literary translator, editor, and zheng harpist who writes and translates in English, French, Chinese, and occasionally Spanish. One of the few English-language poets of our times who works across genres and artistic expressions, as well as more than three languages or cultures, she is the author of four books of poetry: Water the Moon (2010), My Funeral Gondola (2013), The Ruined Elegance (2016) from Princeton University Press—a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and one of Library Journal’s Best Poetry Books—and most recently, Rain in Plural (2020), also from Princeton. Sze-Lorrain has translated more than a dozen volumes of contemporary Chinese-language, French, and American poets, and guest/coedited three anthologies of international literature. Her work was shortlisted for the 2020 Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry and the 2016 Best Translated Book Award, and longlisted for the 2014 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. In 2018, Sze-Lorrain was the inaugural writer-in-residence at Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires. A Blue Dark (2019), a joint exhibition with Fritz Horstman which featured her handwritten poems in ink alongside Horstman’s ink drawings, was held at the Institute Library (The Gallery Upstairs) in New Haven. Written during the 2020 Covid confinement, a new sequence of four poems has been set to music by composer Peter Child, and to be performed by the Cantata Singers in Boston for their 2020-21 (Reimagined) Season. Sze-Lorrain serves as an editor at Vif Éditions, a small independent press based in Paris. As a zheng harpist, she has performed worldwide.

Poems and Translations

I will work on a collection of poems about silence and embodied ruins, and the creation of versatile boundaries. Parallel to the writing of these poems are my research and translations (in French) of a selection of American contemporary poetry, and translations (in English) of leading contemporary Chinese-language poets, all of whom explore in their work—and hopefully, practice in life—the relevant themes and ethics.