Winner of the 2022 Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry, selected by Terrance Hayes.
The debut collection from Simon Shieh, Master
is a stark, surreal, and imagistic reckoning with a traumatic past. Master
follows the speaker's struggle with masculinity from a martial arts school in upstate New York to a boxing academy in Beijing. Language emerges in this collection not as a neutral witness to a boy's subjugation, but as the very tool of hegemony, though one which also holds the key to its own undoing, and therefore to freedom. As much as Master
is the story of pain, it is also a journey to healing, illuminating that while violence can be our patrimony, it does not have to be our destiny.
Simon Shieh is a Taiwanese American poet and essayist. He has lived in upstate New York and Beijing, China, where he co-founded Spittoon Literary Magazine, which translates the best new Chinese writing into English. From 2008-2014 he competed as an amateur and professional Muay Thai fighter in China, Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, and the U.S. Simon's work has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. He lives in the U.S. with his wife, Charlotte, and their dog, Momo. Master is his first collection of poems.