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Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Monica Youn
Read an excerpt
“Each poem feels urgent thanks to the tension created by language that is austere yet unsparing, and rhetoric that is restrained yet deeply emotional. . . . [Youn’s] intelligence feels extensive and inviting. . . . Blackacre stands as a gorgeous and intellectually scintillating addition to this esoteric and necessary tradition.”Chicago Tribune
“[Youn] tightly yet playfully interrogat[es] inheritance and legacy, real and fictional landscapes, and the particular bodily experience of a woman hoping to conceive. . . . Youn's lawyerly analyses—of life, of herself, her feelings, and of language—cut through the poetic to a place that lies between poetry, lyric memoir, and textual analysis.”Publishers Weekly

About the Book

The brilliant new collection by Monica Youn following Ignatz, a finalist for the National Book Award
the trees all planted in the same month after the same fire

           each thick around
           as a man’s wrist

meticulously spaced grids cutting the sunshine

           into panels into planks
           and crossbeams of light

an incandescent architecture that is the home that was promised you

—from “Whiteacre”
First coined in 1628, the term “blackacre” is a legal fiction, a hypothetical estate. It is also a password among lawyers marking one’s initiation into a centuries-old tradition of legal indoctrination. Monica Youn’s fascinating, multifaceted new collection, Blackacre, uses the term to suggest landscape, legacy, what is allotted to each of us—a tract of land, a work of art, a heritage, a body, a destiny. What are the limits of the imagination’s ability to transform what is given? On any particular acre, can we plant a garden? Found a city? Unearth a treasure? Build a home? Youn brings her lawyerly intelligence and lyric gifts to bear on questions of fertility and barrenness as she attempts to understand her own desire—her own struggle—to conceive a child. Where the shape-making mind encounters unalterable fact, Blackacre explores new territories of art, meaning, and feeling.

Additional Reviews

“In Monica Youn’s remarkable series of poems, words and objects are alike subjected to a probing intelligence that is at once philosophical and psychological. The precision of observation at every level is almost overwhelming. The reader cannot relax for an instant, nor does she want to because the unfolding thought, wire tight and tactile as well as conceptual, is so compelling and demanding of a complete attention that is more than rewarded.”—Stanley Fish
“Monica Youn, quite simply, is one of the two or three most brilliant poets working in America today. In these revelatory poems, the reader encounters an exhilarating thinking-through of all that lyric form entails. No one can match her for impeccable distillation; we knew that before. But in Blackacre, we also encounter a more expansive, undefended version of the poet than any of her previous work had led us to expect. This book is a marvel; read it and read it again.”—Linda Gregerson
Blackacre is virtuosic: poems so sharp and fine they cut deep past the body or the self or the mind—they’re needles of rain carving out a canyon. Death is as close as birth, and as far. Youn dazzles with her enigmatic loopholes—the taut noose, the elusive umbilicus, the Möbius qualities of longing and lack and love—which shadow or shape who we are, and what can be called ours.”—Brenda Shaughnessy

I gotta read this! BOOM!

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