The Academy of American Poets invited twelve guest editors to each curate a month of poems in 2020. In this short Q&A, Monica Youn discusses her curatorial approach for May and her own creative work. How did you approach curating Poem-a-Day?

Monica Youn: I can’t say that I can articulate one particular guiding principle. I was more interested in a mix of poets who are familiar faces and those whose work gets less attention, those who are dear friends and those I have never met in person but whose work I have admired from afar. If you could direct readers to one poem in our collection at that you haven’t curated, what would it be and why?

MY: This question amounts to “what’s your favorite poem,” which is not a question I’ve ever been able to answer since it changes so much from minute to minute. Who are you reading right now

MY: Reading many of the poets in this curation who have new books out—Shane McCrae, Kiki Petrosino, Eduardo C. Corral—as well as some other new books by Natalie Diaz and Mark Bibbins as well as Cathy Park Hong's new nonfiction book. Also rereading the Wolf Hall trilogy now that the last volume is finally here. What are you working on now in your writing, teaching, or publishing life?

MY: I’m working on my fourth collection, tentatively titled FROM FROM, which considers questions of deracination—absent any grounding core of “authenticity,” what is it to have a racial identity largely formed by white people’s ideas about your race?


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