cover image Blackacre: Poems

Blackacre: Poems

Monica Youn. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-55597-750-4

This third collection from Youn (Ignatz) finds her tightly yet playfully interrogating inheritance and legacy, real and fictional landscapes, and the particular bodily experience of a woman hoping to conceive. The title refers to a legal term denoting a type of fictional entity, a hypothetical real estate; Youn’s legal background (she was a practicing lawyer for years) emerges in her attention to detail and ability to parse concepts. Formally and syntactically diverse, the poems often portray a mature, professional woman wrestling with the philosophy and psychology of all that that life entails. Word play abounds (“a statement// of intent, of well-meant/ amends; an acquiescent an-/ athema in its seam-/ less unseen net”), as do references to working life and an intellectualized distancing when dealing with corporeality (“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”). Throughout, Youn’s lawyerly analyses—of life, of herself, her feelings, and of language—cut through the poetic to a place that lies triangulated between poetry, lyric memoir, and textual analysis. It is in that latter element that Youn deconstructs the nature of possession and boundedness; in the act of self-claiming, Youn wonders, did she make herself “into a resource that was bounded, and, therefore, exhaustible?” (Sept.)