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Jane Yeh

Cover Picture of Marabou
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Categories: 21st Century, First Collections, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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(Pub. Jul 2012)
£7.95 £7.16
Paperback (64 pages)
(Pub. Oct 2005)
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  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Contents
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • When it came, we were getting ready
    For bed. The gowns lay on the mattresses,
    White as palms open for a coin.

    I always loved how they spread themselves,
    Armless & headless, across the sheets,
    Loved that perfect stillness of things

    Dropped from a great height. They stretched
    The length of the beds like so many
    Paper dolls. That night

    The sandals waited on the floor, soft
    Brown mouths, open & dumb as those
    Of children. I loved how the feet

    Came down with a slap, the straps
    An embrace. We were kneeling
    When it hit. Through the window

    I saw its hand & when the others ran
    I stood, walked the row
    Putting on each pair of sandals, pulling

    One crackling cloth over my head after another.

    'Vesuvius (in the Priests' Quarters)'

    Marabou, Jane Yeh's first book of poems, is a meditation on the nature of artifice, and on the self. Her snapshots freeze fraught instants in the lives of a broad cast of characters: the horror movie mummy, an Elizabethan shoemaker, a flock of Cumbrian sheep; there's Harry Potter's owl and Oscar Wilde, two European princesses... In these beautifully crafted poems, her personae address the themes of love, lust, glamour and desperation with wit and flair. Hers is the language of fashion, espionage, revenge tragedy; her taut pressure-packed lines combine vivid detail and bold confession and reach unexpected emotional truths.
    Table of Contents



    Double Wedding, 1615

    The Pre-Raphælites


    Convent at Haarlem


    The Only Confirmed Cast Member Is Ook the Owl, Who Has Been Tapped To Play the Snowy White Owl Who Delivers Mail for Harry


    Bad Quarto



    Paris, 1899

    Teen Spies


    Blue China

    Love in a Cold Climate I

    Love in a Cold Climate II


    France, 1919



    Portrait at Windsor

    Seaside Resorts

    Parliament of Fowls


    Fête Champêtre

    Vesuvius (In the Priests' Quarters)


    Shoemaker's Holiday

    Revenger's Tragedy

    Rhode Island Waltz



    Self-Portrait After Vermeer


    Jane Yeh was born in America and has lived in London since 2002. She holds degrees in English and Creative Writing from Harvard, Iowa, Manchester Metropolitan, and Royal Holloway London universities. Her first collection of poems, Marabou (Carcanet, 2005), was shortlisted for the Whitbread, Forward, and Aldeburgh poetry prizes. She was ... read more
    Awards won by Jane Yeh Commended, 2019 Poetry Book Society Recommendation (Discipline) Short-listed, 2005   Whitbread Poetry Prize (Marabou) Short-listed, 2005 Forward Poetry Prize for the Best First Collection
    Winner, 2012 Girton College Jane Martin Prize
     'Marabou is fresh and surprising. If only all first books were this unusual.'
    Stephen Knight, the Independent on Sunday
    Praise for Jane Yeh  'Density and nuance dancing together in precise flights of the imagination are the hallmarks of Yeh's poetry.'

    John Yau, Hyperallergic Books of the Year 2020

    'Yeh pulls back the lens of aestheticised perfection to show the world as it really stands. Each time we think we have a handle of Yeh's poems, and expectation of what they might do, she wrong-foots us; so we must begin again, and join her in interrogating patriarchal and elitist notions of what poetry is, what it can do, and what it should include.'

    Jenna Clarke, The Compass

    Yeh's use of irony and the surreal is always, at its best, counterbalanced with emotional weight. Like Chelsey Minnis, she uses the interplay of imagery to upset and interrogate cultural hierarchies. The virtuoso, often slapstick, performance of these poems doesn't belie the seriousness, or the razor-sharp vision, of this collection.

    Kate Potts, Poetry London

    Yeh is a poet of imaginative transformation who creates worlds that borrow from art, fashion, the internet, and pop culture [...] this is an impressive book that I hope will be influential and widely read. Continual surprises, when coupled with the compression of her best poems, are why Discipline reads so well. Yeh's mastery of this tension rewards rereading over and over. Like a child at the bottom of a slide, I found myself wanting to start again as soon as I'd finished.'

    Matthew Valades, Quarterly West

      'Such poems capture the universality of loneliness, the daily negotiations we make with our given bodily 'identities', and our desire to connect with other living beings, imperfect as those connections may be'
    Kathryn Maris, Times Literary Supplement

     'Humour and linguistic dynamism, mainstream and counterculture, brush up against each other in Yeh's poetry'
    Rob A. Mackenzie, Magma
      'Every word, image and space is arranged just so, and you can almost detect the hand of the poet making the final tweak'
    Edwina Attlee, The Poetry Review, Summer 2019
    'Across her collections, Yeh affords much time and sketching these ostensibly comic figures with idiosyncrasies and surprising expressions of fears, desires or dreams they come far closer to the reader than their technicolour exteriors might suggest...What stands out most for me about Yeh's work is its generosity, or rather its un-self-centredness. It takes a serious openness of heart to be so willing to appear so ludicrous, to so consistently prioritise the playful and culturally communal, to keep, as she demands of the poets she critiques herself, the time, energy and experience of reader to the fore of one's aesthetics.'
    Dave Coates, Dave Poems
      'Like the paintings of Kirsten Glass that inspire Discipline's title poem, Yeh shows that the elegant and the macabre are never far apart.'
    Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian
      'Discipline' offers an array of dark humour and electric wit...Yeh exposes the vanity of our emotional weight. The result is liberating and, yes, deeply funny.'
    Sandeep Parmar, PBS Spring Bulletin 2019
       '"Haunting and hilarious" explorations of identity and performance prompted by videos and paintings, animals and street life.'
    The Guardian - '2019 in books: what you'll be reading this year'
    'She is a brilliant technician. Her acute visual sensibility, the sensuousness of her descriptions, her gift for the creation of striking metaphors, her sensitive orchestration of sounds and the precision of her thought are all rich sources of pleasure for the reader.'
    Edmund Prestwich, Acumen
     'Jane Yeh's The Ninjas is as unsettling and funny as its cover image... One is tempted to gobble down the exquisite poems one after another...'
    Sarah Coles, New Welsh Review
     'The Ninjas is profound, funny and sad, reminding us that humans and androids are lonely and need love, and that attention to detail and kindness to animals can make a better world. This quirky and wise collection has outstanding originality and poise.'
    Aingeal Clare, Guardian
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