Barter

Barter

by Monica Youn
     
 

"Barter exchanges history for myth, direct speech for epistles, activity for observation . . . breathtaking." --Claudia Rankine

Felix the Rat's hind feet
could be Barbie hands--
same pink, same
injection-molded seaming.--from "Electronica"

The poems in Barter, Monica Youn's exciting first collection,

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Overview

"Barter exchanges history for myth, direct speech for epistles, activity for observation . . . breathtaking." --Claudia Rankine

Felix the Rat's hind feet
could be Barbie hands--
same pink, same
injection-molded seaming.--from "Electronica"

The poems in Barter, Monica Youn's exciting first collection, negotiate transactions between scarcity and excess, pornography and abstraction, the thing and the thing seen. Rendered with a dazzling array of structures and allusions, these poems describe--and become--a strange gallery of paintings and portraits. She offers a Polaroid left on a windshield, step-by-step instructions for "Drawing for Absolute Beginners," a stereoscope with a box of slides. Both an homage to and a warning against nonexistent things, Barter introduces a vibrant new voice and a new way of seeing.

Editorial Reviews

Rae Armantrout
[These poems] are disturbing because of the insidious links they find between seemingly disparate things. Youn's gaze plays stereoscopically over the field of such cultural artifacts (often lifted from the horror-show of feminine conditioning). The result is sly, deft, spooky, intriguing.
Publishers Weekly
"Technically edible/ like the nasturtiums," Youn's poems are a decadent decade's blowback, "[s]omething authoritative,/ asymmetrical, perhaps/ a bit outre." A Houston-raised former Stegner fellow, Youn is a lawyer in New York, and delivers these 42 poems "ex machina in silver lame." Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Youn's first collection is frustratingly obscure in places, but her description dazzles. "Drawing for Absolute Beginners," a difficult piece, surveys eight sections of the "ideal male body" as outlined by an old-fashioned drawing text: "Eyes glass boxes/ filling up with light. Later, drained to a blue-gray, the color of/ good government." A metaphor about Venice is as intriguing but less puzzling: "I learned...to walk/ through the alien city-a beekeeper's habit-/ with fierce light/ clinging to my head and hands." Youn generates a sexual charge as she moves through alternate worlds of pornography and art, annotating her references with author's notes, two indispensable pages that explain, among other things, that the book's epitaph comes "from the Norse myth of the ribbon Glepnir, which is made of nonexistent things." Youn's subjects also include Korea, the subjugation of women, and the torture of children, but she writes most convincingly about the middle regions of the United States, including her native Texas: "We know no other shapes/ than those that contain us:/ we have built our zoneless city,/ a hub of freeways, a dark toile." A sophisticated debut; recommended for academic collections.-Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555973810
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Publication date:
04/13/2003
Pages:
64
Product dimensions:
6.06(w) x 9.08(h) x 0.25(d)

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