Monica Youn

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Monica Youn

Monica Youn grew up in Houston, Texas. She received a BA from Princeton University, a JD from Yale Law School, and an MPhil from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.

Youn is the author of Blackacre (Graywolf Press, 2016), a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award in poetry; Ignatz (Four Way Books, 2010), a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award; and Barter (Graywolf Press, 2003).

Of Blackacre, Stanley Fish writes, “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.”

Youn has received poetry fellowships from the Library of Congress, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Stanford University. She is also known for her work as a lawyer specializing in election law. She has previously taught at Bennington College, Columbia University, and Warren Wilson College, among others. She currently teaches at Princeton University and lives in New York City.


Blackacre (Graywolf Press, 2016)
Ignatz (Four Way Books, 2010)
Barter (Graywolf Press, 2003)

by this poet


                     Lamentation (Martha Graham, 1930)

                     What shall I compare to you, that I may comfort                                 you, virgin daughter of Zion? Lamentations 2:13


Wordless, ceaseless,
a second, seamless skin,
this blue refrain


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


one day they showed me a dark moon ringed

with a bright nimbus on a swirling gray screen

they called it my last chance for neverending life

but the next day it was gone it had