Longlist, National Book Awards 2016 for Poetry

Blackacre by Monica Youn, book cover
ISBN 9781555977504
Graywolf Press
Author photo of Monica Youn. (Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan)
Monica Youn

Monica Youn grew up in Houston, the daughter of Korean immigrants, and now splits her time between Brooklyn and Southern California, where she is an Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine. Her previous poetry collections are Blackacre, Ignatz, and Barter. More about this author >

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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.