Manatee Lagoon: Poems (Paperback)
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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.
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.