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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), winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America; Ignatz (Four Way Books, 2010), a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award in poetry; and Barter (Graywolf Press, 2003).

Of Blackacre, Robin Coste Lewis writes, “Youn transforms English itself, a vast landscape of repressed histories, into a seemingly black acre, too, an unexplored site, where suddenly the fraught relationships between the body, time, and history are stunningly articulated simultaneously.”

Youn is the recipient of the Levinson Prize, as well as fellowships from the Library of Congress, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and Stanford University, among others. She is also known for her work as a lawyer specializing in election law, and was the guest editor for Poem-a-Day in May 2020. She currently teaches at Princeton University, is a member of the Racial Imaginary Institute, and lives in New York City.


Bibliography

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

By This Poet

13

Stealing The Scream

It was hardly a high-tech operation, stealing The Scream.
That we know for certain, and what was left behind--
a store-bought ladder, a broken window,
and fifty-one seconds of videotape, abstract as an overture.

And the rest? We don't know. But we can envision
moonlight coming in through the broken window,
casting a bright shape over everything--the paintings,
the floor tiles, the velvet ropes: a single, sharp-edged pattern;

the figure's fixed hysteria rendered suddenly ironic
by the fact of something happening; houses
clapping a thousand shingle hands to shocked cheeks
along the road from Oslo to Asgardstrand;

the guards rushing in--too late!--greeted only
by the gap-toothed smirk of the museum walls;
and dangling from the picture wire like a baited hook,
a postcard: "Thanks for the poor security."

The policemen, lost as tourists, stand whispering
in the galleries: ". . .but what does it all mean?"
Someone has the answers, someone who, grasping the frame,
saw his sun-red face reflected in that familiar boiling sky.

Ignatz Oasis

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.