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September 2, 2010The Arsenal Building, Central ParkNew York, NYFrom the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

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)

Ignatz, Pop Quiz (audio only)


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Monica Youn

Monica Youn

Monica Youn is the author of Blackacre (Graywolf Press, 2016). She teaches at Princeton University and lives in New York City.

by this poet


What is your face?
          A house, of sorts.

What is your foot?
          A chipped stone blade.

What did you dream?
          A rain-washed road.

What did it mean?
          It meant nothing.

What have you learned?

When you have left me
the sky drains of color

like the skin
of a tightening fist.

The sun commences
its gold prowl

batting at tinsel streamers
on the electric fan.

Crouching I hide
in the coolness I stole

from the brass rods 
of your bed.

To section off
is to intensify,

to deaden.
Some surfaces

cannot be salvaged.
Leave them

to lose function,
to persist only

as armature,
holding in place

those radiant

of sensation—
the body a dichotomy