The Hudson Prize Winner

The Principle Agent

Publication Date: December 2011


Winner of the 2010 Hudson Prize, The Principle Agent is a fragmented story told through the eyes of a narrator who is desperate to re-unite with a lost love, writing, “I fear for her. // West all day. // And remembering.” Suzor incorporates the mysterious history of London’s Isle of Dogs, and the erratic behavior of a confidant, Tiresias, to further complicate the mission, declaring, “Tiresias, your antics, they’re getting around town. // The experts suggest antidotes, / pseudonyms, at least.” While trying to piece together the whereabouts of the lost lover, the narrator is continuously misled by what appears to be expert advice and sincere statements, until the confusion manifests into doubt: “She has made it impossible, / as I am made without wings.” Throughout the book, Suzor turns every aspect of theconcrete world into a variable, a catalyst, an agent, leaving the reader with one of many possible conclusions, “Although it may seem (seem) as though I mean what I say: // I am apologetic; however what haunts me now is not sorrow, but the dogs. // The way one is always drawn to water, / despite its stagnation.”


“With dazzling lucidity and assurance, Sarah Suzor explores realms of doubt and uncertainty, of loss and the wanderings of rumor and legend. In The Principle Agent, Suzor captures the contingent quality of the truths we live by, observing, ‘It’s not, however, a question of sincerity,/but more what I grow numb to in its absence.’ The buoyant rhythms and patterning of this striking debut collection vie with the “anguish of curiosity” that draw the poet on. Agile of intellect, resolute in courage, Sarah Suzor calls into question the very nature of agency even as she proceeds to catalyze new equations, new antidotes and new choices that show us, finally, a world where ‘West is just west, and it never runs out.'”

-Elizabeth Robinson

Reading this young poet’s first book-length collection is an adventure-heading upriver to a stretch of water unlike anything one has found below. Hers is Western poetry, shaped from a necessity that isn’t so much literary as displaced, best suited to moving on. As Suzor herself puts it, ‘not in summation, but in addition to.'”

-Paul Vangelisti

Suzor seems to channel Sappho in her lean modern-day poems, a narrative made up of fragments that expose a razor-sharp intelligence, an unnerving sophistication, an echo of the poet Anne Carson.”

-Elaine Sexton

About the Author

Sarah Suzor

Sarah Suzor's full-length collection of poetry, The Principle Agent, won the 2010 Hudson Prize and was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2011. She also has a forthcoming collaboration After the Fox, which is co-authored with Travis Cebula and will be available from Black Lawrence Press in 2014. Her reviews and interviews can be found in Tarpaulin Sky and Rain Taxi, and she has recently guest blogged for the Best American Poetry series. Suzor’s poetry has been published widely, as well as anthologized, translated and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Venice, California where she is a founding editor for Highway 101 Press, a correspondent for Omnidawn’s online magazine OmniVerse, and a guest lecturer for the Left Bank Writers Retreat in Paris.

Visit Author Page