From Publishers Weekly
Yang's debut is as full of surprises as it is full of fish. Most of its 60-odd short poems, arranged alphabetically, take their names from aquatic creatures: Orca, Parrotfish, Nudibranch. Though he does incorporate oceanology and fish biology (Scientists exploit/ the mormyrid's unique electrical/ properties to test water), Yang also brings in Chinese classical poetry, Hindu myth, intelligent design/ and think tanks and political quips (The U.S. is a small fish/ with a false head). He is no less attentive to modern history and contemporary, Internet-based events: one poem praises the Italian revolutionary hero Garibaldi; the next explains, Google is a sea of consciousness. Another thread has to do with East and West—and the oceans between. Yang's pithy free verse insists on entanglements among the literary arts and the natural sciences, as among East Asian, South Asian, European and American literatures: Triggerfish includes Hawaiian proverbs, Catholic philosophy, comparative mythography and that inveterate comparer, the poet Ezra Pound, always testing the overtones. Those who read the collection quickly may find it witty but gimmicky; those who bring more attention will take more away from this rare first book that combines a simple theme (poems as sea life, the book as their tank) with clear, sharp thought at the level of sentence and line. (Nov.)
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“If you ever need to remember that we live in outer space and all that it implies, go look into an aquarium. Or read this fabulous book that wraps eco-history into alphabet and weapon development and marine movement and actually proves that they are cooperating in the construction of the monster planet that we inhabit. Thrilling, scientific, mystical, clear, hilarious, horrible—an ‘aquarium’ in all its complexity: this very book.” —FANNY HOWE
“Jeffrey Yang’s witty, glitzy, erudite, and musical icthyographic extravaganza is the best bestiary since Lawrence and the snazziest first book in years. A starfish is born!” —ELIOT WEINBERGER