‘Barter’ By Monica Youn

I bought Monica Youn’s Barter at a used bookstore, which I don’t normally like to do, when it comes to living poets, because I like for poets to profit (financially) from their labors, but the book was on my list and there it was at Capitol Hill Bookstore, so I got it.

Barter is a dark book. The objectification and commodification of women’s bodies (and maybe, especially, the bodies of Asian women, but I can’t really be sure); immigrant bodies are also a recurring theme, albeit rather elliptically. Discomfort and disjunction. Life as trauma, perhaps. But not as being determined by traumatic experiences, so much as life being inherently so. Maybe. I don’t know. And much of this in the nominal form of ekphrastic poetry.

Derivation, or
The Unexamined Life

remorse: to be bitten
again. remonstrance.

to be displayed again;
shown again; arms

pulled back, head
following, how you

gloat, my reflection
smeared in the moonlight

window: why won’t
you look at yourself?

 

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