Monday, July 5, 2010

Kevin Young's "Bereavement"

Kevin Young's poem Bereavement, which first appeared in the June 22, 2009 issue of The New Yorker, is a really powerful, artistic grieving of a poet's deceased father that focuses on the hunting dogs that the father left behind. The dogs' "grief is colossal/ & forgetful" writes Young. "Each day they wake / seeking his voice." Young writes really beautifully about the painful circumstance of losing a father, and despite that pain, he manages to interject the piece with humor noting that he has begun to think of the dogs as "my father’s other sons, / as kin. Brothers-in-paw."

The artistic blend of pain and humor that emerges in "Bereavement" appears throughout Young's poetic writings. That artistic blend of of pain and humor, which is also generally referred to as a "blues aesthetic," permeates the work of African American poets, such as Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka, and Sonia Sanchez.

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