New work from Monica Youn

Princeton professor (and alumna) Monica Youn has published the title poem of her new book, Blackacre (forthcoming from Graywolf Press), in the June edition of Poetry magazine. The long lyric sequence, an intense engagement with Milton’s 19th sonnet (On His Blindness), is also accompanied by an explanatory essay on the Poetry Foundation website. An excerpt follows below:

To stand and wait for the one who reaps where he has not sown.
Mercy sugars the starving soil with nitrogen, potassium, phosphate. Mercy captures rain in silver beads and stitches them through the threadbare weave of cloud. Mercy wields a scalpel cutting a cleft in the lopped-off stump, mercy forces home the rootless wand, mercy seals the join with tar and tape.
To foster the raw scion as if it were a son, to siphon light down through its body as if it were your own.

Three events this week

4:30PM, Scheide Caldwell 103
Reading by poet Nicholas Sammaras
The Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies welcomes Nicholas Samaras, who will read from his new collection, American Psalm, World Psalm, a contemporary series of 150 numbered, titled psalms (ψαλμοί), or “songs.”  With a response by Albert Raboteau (emeritus, Religion).


6:30PM, Labyrinth Books
Reading by poet Mark Doty
Mark Doty (Rutgers) will read from his newly published work, Deep Lane: Poems. Doty is the author of several collections of poetry, including Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which received the 2008 National Book Award.

4:30PM, Chancellor Greene 105
Translator Pierre Joris reads Paul Celan
The Department of English and the Contemporary Poetry Colloquium welcome Pierre Joris, who will give a talk entitled “On Paul Celan.”

Spotlight on: ‘Radical Poetics, Radical Translation’ in Fall 2015

Here’s one highlight from the courses being offered in the fall. Check out our full list (under ‘Resources,’ above) for more.

Radical Poetics, Radical Translation (COM402 / TRA402) with Karen R. Emmerich, Wednesdays, 1:30-4:20. 

“This course invites students to consider not just what poems mean but how they mean and how that complicates, challenges, obscures, enlivens, or collides with the task of translation. We will look at forms of poetry that challenge the limits of the translatable, as well as radical translation methods that expand our notion of what translation is. Examples include poems written in made-up languages; unstable texts; homophonic and visual translation; erasure poetics; and multilingual poems. Exploring the places where poetry and translation meet (or diverge), we will put traditional concepts of originality and derivation to the test.”

Click for course details.

In one breath I wake


When you go away

by W.S. Merwin ’48

When you go away the wind clicks around to the north
The painters work all day but at sundown the paint falls
Showing the black walls
The clock goes back to striking the same hour
That has no place in the years

And at night wrapped in the bed of ashes
In one breath I wake
It is the time when the beards of the dead get their growth
I remember that I am falling
That I am the reason
And that my words are the garment of what I shall never be
Like the tucked sleeve of a one-armed boy


In 2009, W.S. Merwin, who graduated from Princeton in 1948, became one of only eight poets ever to win the Pulitzer Prize more than once. Merwin has said he felt like a “misfit” at Princeton, where he studied with R.P. Blackmur and John Berryman.