Monday, February 7, 2011

Kevin Young’s Expansive Body of Work

Kevin Young’s Ardency is a noteworthy addition to an already expansive and outstanding body of work.

Young’s volumes of poetry include Most Way Home: Poems (1995), To Repel Ghosts: Five Sides in B Minor (2001) Jelly Roll: A Blues (2003), Black Maria: Poems (2005), For the Confederate Dead (2007), and Dear Darkness: Poems (2008). He edited Giant Steps: The New Generation of African American Writers (2000), Blues Poems (2003), John Berryman: Select Poems (2004), Jazz Poems (2006), and The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing (2010).

You want to talk about poets as historical researchers, then you certainly have to make Young a major part of the conversation. He’s published several poems over the years that exude a poet’s attention to historical records. Young has also frequently written poems that incorporate the sensibilities of music, most notably the blues.

In Ardency, he addresses historical events related to one of the most well-known slave revolt to take place aboard a ship, and he writes in the personas of James Covey, Cinqué, and others associated the rebellion and aftermath.

Young is, as you’ll see in various bylines, the Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English and Curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University in Atlanta. But what’s notable about that byline for our purposes is the level of curatorial work exhibited in the design and structure of Ardency.

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