An Aquarium

An Aquarium
Jeffrey Yang

Winner of the PEN/Osterweil Prize for Poetry

“Here is a first book written from a very high floor of the Tower of Babel, and the view is exhilarating. . . Jeffrey Yang speaks in tongues as if touched with a Pentecostal flame.”—The New York Times Book Review

About the Book

A vivid trip through the various theaters of an aquarium eerie, translucent, and reflective  

Slantwise the crab advances. Poets,

philosophers, the body

politic share different aspects

of this problem.


From "Abalone" to "Zooxanthellae," Jeffrey Yang's debut poetry collection is full of the exhilarating colors and ominous forms of aquatic life. But deeper under the surface are his observations on war, environmental degradation, language, and history, as a father—troubled by violence and human mismanagement of the world—offers advice to a newborn son. Here is a wonderful new voice in poetry, one that takes in the vastness and interconnectedness of life—as Yang writes in one poem, "Each / being being /being's link."


Additional Reviews

“Yang’s debut is as full of surprises as it is full of fish....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.”—Publishers Weekly

An Aquarium is polished, intelligent, and, for all its erudition, readable.”—Chronogram

"Yang's poems undulate in alternating waves of wisdom, humor, prophecy, and what is left behind is the powerful wash of a uniquely gifted artist."—The Midwest Book Review