Book #2: A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora


Jenna Le’s second full-length poetry collection, A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora, won Second Place in the 2017 Elgin Awards, voted on by the international membership of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. It was first published by Anchor & Plume Press in 2016; the second edition was released in May 2018 by Indolent Books. It can be purchased at the following sites:

Indolent Books website
Norwich Bookstore (independent store in Norwich, VT)
Toadstool Bookshop of Peterborough, NH
Barnes and Noble

Advance Praise:

“Le’s furious and steeled voice leaves nothing unturned, propelling these poems through explorations on displacement, womanhood, the body and its endured violences, by confronting a history as tenuous and elusive as the ghosts it conjures. She has created her own version of the Ark, one where the whale, forgotten in the original, is now carried as ‘a child of immigrants, like me.’ In these tender, earnest yet fierce poems, Le does not reinvent myth, but expands it to include our most damned outsiders. And how lucky we are that, like the great Robert Hayden, she has created a vision where ‘Nothing human is foreign…’ As such, this book is as much about loss as it is about art-making and being human—and utterly, forgivably alive.”
     —Ocean Vuong, author of Night Sky With Exit Wounds

“It has been a long time since I have read a book as memorable as Jenna Le’s A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora. She makes the forms sound new, but it is also the memorability of her subject matter. An immigrant is compared to a whale; Noah’s ark is replayed in a taxi; and physical self-love is transformed into ‘fish’s skin [that] will turn crisp / in a copper pan above a kitchen blaze.’ The work is both clever and poignant, with unexpected characters like William Butler Yeats’s mistress and a narcoleptic who is scripted into a romance narrative that involves abuse; yet, as Le writes, ‘At seven years old, that’s what I thought love was.’ If you thought you knew what formal poetry was, you need to read Jenna Le’s magical, original book.”
     —Kim Bridgford, author of Human Interest

Excerpts From Reviews:

“Stunning collection of poetry…. Quirky word choice, incisive wit, bold approach to subject matter…make these forms sound fresh…. I highly recommend A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora to anyone who loves well-crafted formal or free verse…. Startling juxtaposition of images, insightful descriptions of human and animal behaviour, compelling narratives…make for a highly engaging reading experience.”
     —John W. Steele, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal

“Quietly subversive…. This is hopeful poetry; indeed, magical poetry.”
     —Eric Nguyen, diaCRITICS

“A pitch-perfect ear…. Not since Joan Houlihan’s 2009 The Us has a poet so eloquently captured dislocation and survival.”
     —Paul David Adkins, Los Angeles Review

“Offers insight, important insight…through moving words and case studies. I love the poetry, which has sophisticated craft (note the subtle rhyme), which moves me at times to tears—but I appreciate the education, too, because there is much to learn from the experiences she writes about.”
     —Karen Craigo, Stirring: A Literary Collection

“A brilliant, thought-provoking look at families, and the immigrant experience…. A book whose depth will continue to engage a reader on repeated readings.”
     —Andrea Janelle Dickens, Tinderbox Poetry Journal

“At once the reader is positioned in a new configuration of the world. Expectation disappears with a feel of spontaneity and mystery, invigorated with its deviation from form.”
     —Rajiv Mohabir, Waxwing