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 poetry 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. Longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry

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.

“Youn reminds readers that poetry is essential because of how it says what can’t be expressed through prose.”
—The Washington Post

Monica Youn is the author of two previous poetry collections, Barter and Ignatz, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent collection, Blackacre, was longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Poetry. A former lawyer, she is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Princeton and teaches in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

Presented By

  • Lewis Center for the Arts
  • Labyrinth Books