Graywolf. Sept. 2016. 96p. ISBN 9781555977504. pap. $16. POETRY
Just as John Milton reflected on his blindness in his sonnet, "When I Consider How My Light Is Spent," Youn reflects on her barrenness in her latest book of poetry. The author of two previous collections, Barter and Ignatz, a finalist for the National Book Award, Youn is a lawyer-turned-poet/writing professor. This book takes an almost childlike delight in wordplay as it blends autobiography with images from nature as well as allusions to Tarot cards, biblical passages, and works by Milton, e.e. cummings, Virginia Woolf, and others. The title comes from the law school concept of "blackacre," a legal fiction meaning a hypothetical estate just as John Doe is a hypothetical name. Youn bases many of the poems on this concept calling them "Whiteacre," "Greenacre," "Brownacre," etc. The title poem—heavy with allusions to Milton's sonnet—is a lengthy prose poem about her inability to bear a child and her subsequent efforts to conceive using in vitro fertilization.
VERDICT Ultimately, this collection contains a somewhat uneasy though generally pleasing mix of references and styles ranging from minimalist, Zenlike offerings to free verse to full-throated prose poems. Sophisticated readers should investigate.
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