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Book Title

We Are Mermaids

Author 1
Stephanie Burt
Poem Excerpt
You don’t have to be use-
ful. You are not required
to come up with something to say.
You can spend your life benthic, or brackish,
subsisting and even thriving where a fingertip
comes away saline and still refreshing,
exploring the estuary, the submerged lip
and congeries of overlapping shores
on the green-black water, the harbor, the bay.
You can live with your doubt,
that’s why it’s yours.
Stephanie Burt’s poems in We Are Mermaids are never just one thing. Instead, they revel in their multiplicity, their interconnectedness, their secret powers to become much more than they at first seem. In these poems, punctuation marks make arguments for their utility and their rights to exist. Frozen isn’t simply another Disney animated musical but “the Most Trans Movie Ever.” Mermaids, werewolves, and superheroes don’t just fret over divided natures and secret identities, but celebrate their wholeness, their unique abilities, and their erotic potential. Flowers in this collection bloom into exactly what they are meant to be—revealing themselves, like bleeding hearts, beyond their given names.

With humor and insight, Burt’s poems have always cherished and examined the things of this world, both real and imagined objects of fascination and desire. In this resplendent new collection, her observation and care flourish into her most fulfilled book yet. These poems shake off indecisiveness and doubt to reach joys through romance and family, through nature (urban and otherwise), and through imaginative community. We Are Mermaids is a trans book, a fangirl book, a book about coming together. It’s also Burt’s best book.

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6.5 x 9
Effusive new poems by Stephanie Burt, “perhaps our greatest poet of having yet more to say” (Boston Review)

About the Author

Stephanie  Burt
Credit: Jessie Bennett
 Stephanie Burt is Professor of English at Harvard University and the author of several previous books of poetry and literary criticism, among them Advice from the Lights, Belmont and Close Calls with Nonsense, as well as The Poem Is You.
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  • “Stephanie Burt’s newest collection, We Are Mermaids, is a time capsule of girlhood, a transfiguration of silence into song, a mermaid’s scales rearranged into poems.”—C. E. Janecek, Colorado Review 
  • “The poems in We Are Mermaids can be skillfully decoded as trans allegories, or climate anxiety, or disgust at U.S. Fascism, but limiting these poems to one reading would miss the pleasures of their inventiveness, their playfulness, their ease at existing in many states at once.”—Robin Arble, Heavy Feather Review
  • “Oriented toward a queer futurity’s potential, these poems rarely land in certainty. . . . Burt reminds us that the surface reflects to the observer just one story, one script, and when we dip below what initially appears, we meet numerous realms and ways of being as mysterious and lovely as the unknown that flourishes on the ocean floor.”—Madeleine Wattenberg, The Georgia Review
  • “The poems in Stephanie Burt’s We Are Mermaids are like modified Fabergé eggs—their bejeweled descriptions crack open to reveal the real yolk of the deeply personal. . . .This is uplifting and transformative work.”—Matthea Harvey
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