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From From

Monica Youn
Format: Other
Published: May 25, 2023
ISBN: 9781800173644
160 pages
Country of publication: United Kingdom


Shortlisted for the National Book Award for Poetry 2023

Monica Youn’s first UK collection is her fourth and most ambitious book. It ends with prose, or at least with paragraphs, the long lyrical essay ‘In the Passive Voice’, and the intense ‘Detail of the Rice Chest’, explorations of race, identity and belonging seldom so directly broached in poetry, though they are the unspoken theme of much of our silenced discourse. Monica Youn is an undefended poet, which is not the same thing as defenceless. On the contrary, the undefended poet speaks truths without defensive irony. When there is humour it disarms the reader, until we too are undefended and can confront some of the themes we are reluctant to speak of.

The poems recast classical myth in the light of coloniality, otherness and desire, juxtaposing figures which elicit one another’s deeper natures. There are metamorphoses, fables. In place of Wallace Stevens’s blackbird, Youn proposes ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Magpie’, the two-hued bird with a bad reputation.

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