Discipline by Jane Yeh
PBS Spring Recommendation 2019
In Discipline, her third collection, Jane Yeh depicts a haunting and hilarious variety of lives, from an endangered young rhinoceros to the denizens of the 1980s New York club scene. These multifaceted poems explore what identity isn’t and is, as performance, as struggle, as change, as art with penetrating wit, channeling the voices of outsiders, artists, misfits, and others. Discipline inhabits the space between the real and the surreal, a mash-up of deadpan humour and heartbreaking imagery where novelty T-shirts and lady astronaut centaurs can coexist. The poems are triggered by videos, paintings and installations by contemporary artists, animals and city life. They bristle with striking details and observations. Imaginary landscapes converge with episodes from recent history: power, resistance and the structures of oppression are seen inexorably in operation. These miniature dramas perform their own autopsies: ‘Sweet, then sour. My lips the colour of Doubt’.