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Kevin Young

About This Author
Kevin Young’s first book, Most Way Home, was selected for the National Poetry Series and won the Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares. His second book of poems, To Repel Ghosts, a “double album” based on the work of the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, was a finalist for the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Young’s poetry and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, and Callaloo. He is editor of the anthology Giant Steps: The New Generation of African American Writers and the forthcoming Everyman’s Library Pocket Poet anthology Blues Poems. A former Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, Young is currently Ruth Lilly Professor of Poetry at Indiana University.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Kevin Young’s first book, Most Way Home, was selected for the National Poetry Series and won the Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares. His second book of poems, To Repel Ghosts, a “double album” based on the work of the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, was a finalist for the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Young’s poetry and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, and Callaloo. He is editor of the anthology Giant Steps: The New Generation of African American Writers and the forthcoming Everyman’s Library Pocket Poet anthology Blues Poems. A former Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, Young is currently Ruth Lilly Professor of Poetry at Indiana University.


From the Hardcover edition.
Books by thisAuthor
  • The Hungry Ear

    The Hungry Ear
    Poems of Food and Drink
    Food and poetry: in so many ways, a natural pairing, from prayers over bread to street vendor songs. Poetry is said to feed the soul, each poem a delicious morsel. When read aloud, the best poems provide a particular joy for the mouth. Poems about food make these satisfactions explicit and complete. Of course, pages can and have been filled about food's elemental pleasures. And we all know food is more than food: it's identity and culture. Our days are marked by meals; our seasons are marked by celebrations. We plant in spring; harvest in fall. We labor over hot stoves; we treat ourselves to special meals out. Food is nurture; it's comfort; it's reward. While some of the poems here are explicitly about the food itself: the blackberries, the butter, the barbecue—all are evocative of the experience of eating. Many of the poems are also about the everything else that accompanies food: the memories, the company, even the politics. Kevin Young, distinguished poet, editor of this year's Best American Poetry, uses the lens of food—and his impeccable taste—to bring us some of the best poems, classic and current, period. Poets include: Elizabeth Alexander, Elizabeth Bishop, Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Louise Gluck, Seamus Heaney, Tony Hoagland, Langston Hughes, Galway Kinnell, Frank O'Hara, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, Matthew Rohrer, Charles Simic, Tracy K. Smith, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Mark Strand, Kevin Young

    Black Maria

    Black Maria
    Kevin Young follows his acclaimed exploration of the blues in Jelly Roll with another playful riff on a vital art form, giving us a film noir in verse. Black Maria–the title is a slang term for a police van as well as a hearse–is a twisting tale of suspicion, passion, mystery, and the city. Young channels the world of detective movies, picking up its lingo and dark glamour in five “reels” of poetry–the adventures of a “soft-boiled” private eye, known as A.K.A. Jones, and an ingenue turned femme fatale, Delilah Redbone, who’s come to town from down south (“Mama bent till dark / tending rows to send / Me to school . . . I wanted / To head on & hitch . . . strike it / Big”). We follow Jones and Delilah through a maze of aliases and ambushes, sex and suspicions, fast talk and hard luck, in Shadowtown where noir characters abound. The Killer, The Gunsel, The Hack, The Director, The Champ, and The Snitch are among the local luminaries and beautiful losers who mingle with Jones and his elusive lady as they stalk one another through the scenes of the poet’s dazzling “treatment.” Charming, funky, bleak, humorous, picaresque, and full of pathos, Black Maria is brimming with the originality and stark lyricism we have come to expect from this remarkable poet. When we met her first request: Got a light? * I only had dark so gave her that instead. * Ashtray full of butts & maybes. * The sound of her heels down the hall to me means reveille. (from “Stills”) Click on the poem titles below to hear Kevin Young read from Black Maria. From the Hardcover edition.

    Deviance and Social Control in Sport

    Deviance and Social Control in Sport
    The world of sport offers a deep—and often-overlooked—source for the study of deviance and its development and impact on society. Deviance and Social Control in Sport challenges preconceived understandings regarding the relationship of deviance and sport and offers a conceptual framework for future work in a variety of sociological subfields. Drawing on their cutting-edge research in criminology and deviance in the discipline of sociology, Atkinson and Young provide a textured understanding of sport-related deviance through the application of various approaches to deviance in a sport context. Using extended case studies, the authors examine the subject of deviance through examples that are popular (fan violence, hockey enforcers, effect of the media), understudied (sport-related violence against animals, athletes as on-field victims of violence), or emerging (sport security, drugs and weight control, cybernetic athletes, extreme sports). This engaging presentation allows readers to fully understand the effects of sport deviance in society. Deviance and Social Control in Sport explains how forms of wanted and unwanted rule violation are produced by and mediated through social contexts in and around sport. As such, it explores -how deviance in sport is culturally constructed and ideologically framed in dynamic and interactive contexts; -the pathways certain athletes follow in becoming deviant and how they learn to associate those behaviors with their core identities; and -the social responses to deviant sporting behaviors, including the role of the media in disseminating images and messages about the behavior in question. The text begins by presenting the theoretical background necessary for understanding deviance, followed by a look at deviance as an individual issue, how it is defined, and how authorities attempt to control it. The authors make the material accessible to readers by using case studies drawn from their own empirical research. The cases show how sociologists interpret and explain the actions of athletes as well as how deviance is layered by various levels of audience interpretation. Driven by a single theory or a range of integrated theoretical approaches, the case studies encourage readers to engage in differing perspectives about deviance in sport culture. The theories are further examined in each chapter through special elements called Theoretical Intersections, which highlight how the sociology of sport meets the sociology of deviance. Discussion questions and recommended readings synthesize the information and stimulate critical thinking and research to conclude each chapter. By considering networks of social relationships and how they produce, define, and police rule violation and rule violators, Deviance and Social Control in Sport offers a nuanced and integrated explanation of sport deviance that accounts for the behaviors and practices of both individuals and teams. This interdisciplinary text challenges readers to explore the dimensions and analytic merit of a full spectrum of crime and deviancy theories, thus stimulating a broader discussion of rule breaking in sport.

    Unsolved Texas Mysteries

    Unsolved Texas Mysteries
    For about as long as there has been a Texas there have been Texas mysteries, and many of them remain unsolved. What happened to the documents captured in the Alamo? Does a ghost actually haunt the state capitol in Austin? Did the U.S. Army secretly bury hundreds of guns in North Texas after WWII? Was John Wilkes Booth killed or did he escape and flee to Central Texas? The authors present the known facts and circumstances of these and other mysteries.

  • Jelly Roll

    Jelly Roll
    In this jaunty and intimate collection, Kevin Young invents a language as shimmying and comic, as low-down and high-hearted, as the music from which he draws inspiration. With titles such as “Stride Piano,” “Gutbucket,” and “Can-Can,” these poems have the sharp completeness of vocalized songs and follow a classic blues trajectory: praising and professing undying devotion (“To watch you walk / cross the room in your black / corduroys is to see / civilization start”), only to end up lamenting the loss of love (“No use driving / like rain, past / where you at”). As Young conquers the sorrow left on his doorstep, the poems broaden to embrace not just the wisdom that comes with heartbreak but the bittersweet wonder of triumphing over adversity at all. Sexy and tart, playfully blending an African American idiom with traditional lyric diction, Young’s voice is pure American: joyous in its individualism and singing of the self at its strongest. From the Hardcover edition.

    For the Confederate Dead

    For the Confederate Dead
    The award-winning “lively and excellent collection” (Los Angeles Times) about the South and its legacy, about African-American griefs and passages, from the author of Jelly Roll and Black Maria, a poet who has “set himself apart from his peers with his supple, variable, blues-inflected lines” (Publishers Weekly).

    Dear Darkness

    Dear Darkness
    Poems
    Delivered in Young’s classic bluesy tone, this powerful collection of poems about the American family, smoky Southern food, and the losses that time inevitably brings “bristles with life, nerve and, best of all, wit” (San Francisco Chronicle).

    Ardency

    Ardency
    A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels
    Acclaimed poet Kevin Young gathers here a chorus of voices that tells the story of the Africans who mutinied onboard the slave ship Amistad. Written over twenty years, this poetic epic—part libretto, part captivity epistle—makes the past present, and even its sorrows sing. In “Buzzard,” the opening section, we hear from the African interpreter for the rebels, mostly from Sierra Leone, who were captured on their winding attempt to sail home and were jailed in New Haven. In “Correspondance,” we encounter the remarkable letters to John Quincy Adams and others that the captives write from jail, where abolitionists taught them English while converting them to Christianity. In lines profound and pointed, the men demand their freedom in their newfound tongue: “All we want is make us free.” The book culminates in “Witness,” a libretto chanted by Cinque, the rebel leader, who yearns for his family and freedom while eloquently evoking the Amistads’ conversion and life in “Merica.” As Young conjures this array of history and music, interweaving the liberation cry of Negro spirituals and the indoctrinating wordplay of American primers, he delivers his signature songlike immediacy at the service of a tremendous epic built on the ironies, violence, and virtues of American history. Vivid and true, Ardency is a powerful meditation on who we’ve been and who we are.

  • The Art of Losing

    The Art of Losing
    Poems of Grief and Healing
    Poetry serves a unique role in our lives, distilling human experience and emotion down to truths as potent as they are brief. There are two times most people turn to it: for love and loss. Although collections of love poetry abound, there are very few anthologies for the grieving. In The Art of Losing, editor Kevin Young Kevin Young has introduced and selected 150 devastatingly beautiful poems that embrace the pain and heartbreak of mourning. Divided into five sections (Reckoning, Remembrance, Rituals, Recovery, and Redemption), with poems by some of our most beloved poets as well as the best of the current generation of poets, The Art of Losing is the ideal a gift for a loved one in a time of need and for use by ministers, rabbis, and palliative care workers who tend to those who are experiencing loss. Among the poets included: Elizabeth Alexander, W.H. Auden, Amy Clampitt, Billy Collins, Emily Dickinson, Louise Gluck, Ted Hughes, Galway Kinnell, Kenneth Koch, Philip Larkin, Li-Young Lee, Philip Levine, Marianne Moore, Sharon Olds Mary Oliver, Robert Pinsky, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, Anne Sexton, Wallace Stevens, Dylan Thomas, Derek Walcott, and James Wright.

    The Grey Album

    The Grey Album
    On the Blackness of Blackness
    *Finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism* *A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Literary Criticism and Essays Pick for Spring 2012* The first work of prose by the brilliant poet Kevin Young, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize Taking its title from Danger Mouse’s pioneering mashup of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and the Beatles’ The White Album, Kevin Young’s encyclopedic book combines essay, cultural criticism, and lyrical choruses to illustrate the African American tradition of lying—storytelling, telling tales, fibbing, improvising, “jazzing.” What emerges is a persuasive argument for the many ways that African American culture is American culture, and for the centrality of art—and artfulness—to our daily life. Moving from gospel to soul, funk to freestyle, Young sifts through the shadows, the bootleg, the remix, the grey areas of our history, literature, and music. 

    Sport and Gender in Canada

    Sport and Gender in Canada
    This thoroughly revised collection examines a wide range of gender related issues, all of which contribute to a larger body of knowledge about how gender operates as a key factor in the way sport is played, organized, and funded in Canada.

    To Repel Ghosts

    To Repel Ghosts
    The Remix
    Revamped from its original "double album" version of 350 pages into this unique "remix," To Repel Ghosts captures the dynamic work and brief life of the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. In spare, jazzlike verse Kevin Young tells the story of Basquiat's rise from the mock prophet and graffiti artist SAMO to one of the hottest painters of the 1980s ("blue-chip Basquiat / playing the bull / market"), exploring the artist's bouts with fame and heroin, mourning his untimely death, and celebrating his legacy. Along the way Young riffs on Basquiat's paintings and sayings, on the music he loved, on the artists he ran with (Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, among them), and on the black heroes (Charlie Parker, Muhammad Ali, Billie Holiday) who inspired him. Young's poetic channeling of Basquiat--a jostling, poignant brand of downtownspeak--makes for an urban epic in the tradition of Langston Hughes's "A Dream Deferred." To Repel Ghosts, along with Young's Jelly Roll: A Blues and Black Maria, his recent book of film noir verse, forms an American trilogy--Devil's Music--that explores other art forms through poetry. In its creation, Yound has become a poet whose work speaks both for and beyond his genre, with a music all its own.

  • The Hungry Ear

    The Hungry Ear
    Poems of Food and Drink
    Food and poetry: in so many ways, a natural pairing, from prayers over bread to street vendor songs. Poetry is said to feed the soul, each poem a delicious morsel. When read aloud, the best poems provide a particular joy for the mouth. Poems about food make these satisfactions explicit and complete. Of course, pages can and have been filled about food's elemental pleasures. And we all know food is more than food: it's identity and culture. Our days are marked by meals; our seasons are marked by celebrations. We plant in spring; harvest in fall. We labor over hot stoves; we treat ourselves to special meals out. Food is nurture; it's comfort; it's reward. While some of the poems here are explicitly about the food itself: the blackberries, the butter, the barbecue--all are evocative of the experience of eating. Many of the poems are also about the everything else that accompanies food: the memories, the company, even the politics. Kevin Young, distinguished poet, editor of this year's Best American Poetry, uses the lens of food - and his impeccable taste - to bring us some of the best poems, classic and current, period. Poets include: Elizabeth Alexander, Elizabeth Bishop, Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Louise Gluck, Seamus Heaney, Tony Hoagland, Langston Hughes, Galway Kinnell, Frank O'Hara, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, Matthew Rohrer, Charles Simic, Tracy K. Smith, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Mark Strand, Kevin Young

    Most Way Home

    Most Way Home
    Poems
    Encompassing America's African-American landscape and rich oral histories of the South, this poetry collection centers on the concept of "home" and explores conflicts between black and white, North and South, ancestral and modern.

    Laylah Ali: Note Drawings

    Laylah Ali: Note Drawings
    For the past decade, Laylah Ali has been interrogating the visual language of contemporary society through paintings and drawings inhabited by her subversive characters. The Notedrawings presented in this catalogue reference Ali's earlier work, yet mark a departure to some degree. While language has always been at the heart of Ali's practice--in its limitations and misinterpretations--she has, in this series of drawings, incorporated actual text into her work. Where her figures were once ambiguous in gender and race, and even questionably human, they now have identifiable attributes of racial and sexual identity portrayed vividly by characters dressed in masks, wigs and a variety of headdresses and costumes. Handwritten directly under and over her figures are random thoughts, snatches of overheard conversation and odd sound bites that question conventional visual markers and allude to racial and political struggles.

    The Body's Question

    The Body's Question
    Poems
    Winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, The Body's Question debuts Tracy K. Smith's ambitious and engaging new voice You are pure appetite. I am pure Appetite. You are a phantom In that far-off city where daylight Climbs cathedral walls, stone by stolen stone. --from "Self-Portrait as the Letter Y" The Body's Question by Tracy K. Smith received the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African-American poet, selected by Kevin Young. Confronting loss, historical intersections with race and family, and the threshold between childhood and adulthood, Smith gathers courage and direction from the many disparate selves encountered in these poems, until, as she writes, "I was anyone I wanted to be."

  • The Best American Poetry 2011

    The Best American Poetry 2011
    Series Editor David Lehman
      The latest installment of the yearly anthology of contemporary American poetry that has achieved brand-name status in the literary world.

    Jazz Poems

    Jazz Poems
    Ever since its first flowering, jazz has had a powerful influence on American poetry; this scintillating anthology offers a treasury of poems that are as varied and as vital as the music that inspired them. From the Harlem Renaissance to the beat movement, from the poets of the New York school to the contemporary poetry scene, the jazz aesthetic has been a compelling literary force—one that Jazz Poems makes palpable. We hear it in the poems of Langston Hughes, E. E. cummings, William Carlos Williams, Frank O’Hara, and Gwendolyn Brooks, and in those of Yusef Komunyakaa, Charles Simic, Rita Dove, Ntozake Shange, Mark Doty, William Matthews, and C. D. Wright. Here are poems that pay tribute to jazz’s great voices, and poems that throb with the vivid rhythm and energy of the jazz tradition, ranging in tone from mournful elegy to sheer celebration.

    Blues Poems

    Blues Poems
    Born in African American work songs, field hollers, and the powerful legacy of the spirituals, the blues traveled the country from the Mississippi delta to “Sweet Home Chicago,” forming the backbone of American music. In this anthology–the first devoted exclusively to blues poems–a wide array of poets pay tribute to the form and offer testimony to its lasting power. The blues have left an indelible mark on the work of a diverse range of poets: from “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes and “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden, to “Blues on Yellow” by Marilyn Chin and “Reservation Blues” by Sherman Alexie. Here are blues-influenced and blues-inflected poems from, among others, Gwendolyn Brooks, Allen Ginsberg, June Jordan, Richard Wright, Nikki Giovanni, Charles Wright, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Cornelius Eady. And here, too, are classic song lyrics–poems in their own right–from Bessie Smith, Robert Johnson, Ma Rainey, and Muddy Waters. The rich emotional palette of the blues is fully represented here in verse that pays tribute to the heart and humor of the music, and in poems that swing with its history and hard-bitten hope.

    The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010

    The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010
    Winner of the 2013 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry "The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 may be the most important book of poetry to appear in years."--Publishers Weekly "All poetry readers will want to own this book; almost everything is in it."--Publishers Weekly "If you only read one poetry book in 2012, The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton ought to be it."—NPR "The 'Collected Clifton' is a gift, not just for her fans...but for all of us."--The Washington Post "The love readers feel for Lucille Clifton—both the woman and her poetry—is constant and deeply felt. The lines that surface most frequently in praise of her work and her person are moving declarations of racial pride, courage, steadfastness."—Toni Morrison, from the Foreword The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965–2010 combines all eleven of Lucille Clifton's published collections with more than fifty previously unpublished poems. The unpublished poems feature early poems from 1965–1969, a collection-in-progress titled the book of days (2008), and a poignant selection of final poems. An insightful foreword by Nobel Prize–winning author Toni Morrison and comprehensive afterword by noted poet Kevin Young frames Clifton's lifetime body of work, providing the definitive statement about this major America poet's career. On February 13, 2010, the poetry world lost one of its most distinguished members with the passing of Lucille Clifton. In the last year of her life, she was named the first African American woman to receive the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize honoring a US poet whose "lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition," and was posthumously awarded the Robert Frost Medal for lifetime achievement from the Poetry Society of America. "mother-tongue: to man-kind" (from the unpublished the book of days): all that I am asking is that you see me as something more than a common occurrence, more than a woman in her ordinary skin.

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