Manatee Lagoon: Poems

Manatee Lagoon: Poems

by Jenna Le
Manatee Lagoon: Poems

Manatee Lagoon: Poems

by Jenna Le


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The third full-length collection from physician and poet Jenna Le blends traditional form and the current moment.

In Manatee Lagoon, sonnets, ghazals, pantoums, villanelles, and a “failed georgic” weave in contemporary subject matter, including social-media comment threads, Pap smears, eclipse glasses, and gun violence. A recurring motif throughout the collection, manatees become a symbol with meanings as wide-ranging as the book itself. Le aligns the genial but vulnerable sea cow with mermaids, neurologists, the month of November, harmful political speech, and even a family photo at the titular lagoon.

In these poems, Le also reflects on the experience of being the daughter of Vietnamese refugees in today’s sometimes tense and hostile America. The morning after the 2016 election, as three women of color wait for the bus, one says, “In this new world, we must protect each other.”

Manatee Lagoon is a treasury of voices, bringing together the personal and the persona, with poems dedicated to Kate Spade, John Ashbery, and Uruguayan poet Delmira Agustini. With this book, Le establishes herself as a talented transcriber of the human condition—and as one of the finest writers of formal verse today.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781946724519
Publisher: Seagull Books
Publication date: 10/20/2022
Pages: 88
Sales rank: 956,971
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora. Her poems have appeared in AGNI, Poet Lore, and Verse Daily. Born in Minnesota, Le now works as a physician and educator in New York City.

Table of Contents

The Mother of Mermaids

What the Ancient Greek Sailors Knew 3

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up? 4

Echoes 5

Sibling Rivalry 7

A Very Asian Variation 8

Bird 9

On the Lesser-Known Uses of Meat Tenderizer 11

Private Rituals 12

Purses 14

Losing Myself in Art

Neurology Ward Sketchbook 17

Patti Smith, 1976 18

Deipnosophistae 19

To John Ashbery 20

The Ballad of Great-Uncle Chi 21

Posture 23

Woman behind the Lens 24

Women Who Conjure Owls 25

Venus Frigida 27

Golden Shovel in the Voice of Margot Begemann 28

Yellowed Weeds Deranged

Sirenian Sermon 31

The Morning after the Election 32

Gusanoz 34

Bird-Watching in the Aftermath 38

Quixotic 40

Dispatch from Hanover, New Hampshire 41

Capgras/Seagrass 42

How I Know Implicit Bias Exists 43

Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends 44

To a Physician Killed by Gun Violence 46

The Origami Master Breakfasts with His New Apprentice 47

The Fairy Tale Now Finished

The Twelve Dancing Princesses 51

The Reader 52

New York Living 53

A Failed Georgic 55

Rosebud, Pustule, Breast 56

I, Casimir Zorawski, a Mathematician of Poland, 57

¡Almas Hermanas Mías! 58

Deep men 59

November 61

Mania 62

I Sing: Holy

Homemade Eclipse Glasses 65

A Cultural Artifact 66

How We Met 67

Tinh Dô Tông 68

Waking from Anesthesia 69

A Life 70

Against Empiricism 71

Picky Picky 72

Standing between My Parents at Manatee Lagoon 73

We Are All at Least 50 Percent Water 74

Acknowledgments 75

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