Friday, December 16, 2016

Kevin Young's Books: A Visual History

Kevin Young has been one of our most productive poets and editors over the course of the last 20 years.
He's published 9 volumes of poetry; he's edited 6 books featuring various poets; he edited a collection of poems by John Berryman and co-edited Lucille Clifton's collected poems; he produced an expansive study of African American literature and culture; and he edited a catalog  of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, arguably the world's largest collection of American poetry.

In short, Kevin Young is a creativity machine, producing publication after publication after publication. Perhaps we have not given enough attention to the overall significance of his publishing record.

[Related: A list of Kevin Young's hardcover and paperback books]

In 1995, William Morrow and Company published Young's first volume Most Way Home. The book was a National Poetry Series Winner, selected by Lucille Clifton. In 1998, Zoland Books published the paperback version of Young's volume.

Multiple versions of Kevin Young's To Repel Ghosts 

In 2001, Zoland Books published Young's To Repel Ghosts: Five Sides in B Minor. Over the years, a few different editions and versions of the book was published. Initially Zoland Books published the hardcover and paperback version, and then later Knopf published a "remix" of the book. 

In the early 2000s, Young began working with Knopf; the relationship between the company and Young is proving to be one of the most enduring and important interactions between a black poet and publisher. Not coincidentally, Knopf remains the long-time publisher of Langston Hughes's poetry.

In 2003, Knopf published Young's jelly roll; in 2005, the company published Young's Black Maria. Later, Knopf published Young's For the Confederate Dead (2007) and his volume Dear Darkness (2008). 

In 20011, Knopf published Young's  Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels, and in 2014, the Knopf published his volume Book of Hours: Poems. In addition to composing poetry, Young worked on several editorial projects.

In 2000, Young edited Giant Steps: The New Generation of African American Writers, which was published by Harper Perennial. In 2003, Everyman's Library published Blues Poems, which Young edited. In 2004, he edited selected poems by John Berryman for Library of America, and in 2006, Everyman's Library published Jazz Poems, which Young edited.

In 2010, Young edited The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing, published by Bloomsbury, and in
2011, he served as editor with David Lehman of The Best American Poetry 2011. In 2012, Bloomsbury, published  The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink, which Young edited, and in the same year, BOA Editions published  The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010, which Young co-edited with Michael Glaser.

Over the decades, Young has been involved with special projects. In 1995 and 1996, an exhibit Two Cents featuring artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat and accompanying poetry be Young appeared in Florida, New York, and California. The exhibit catalog included paintings by Basquiat and poems by Young.

In 2008, he edited the catalog "Democratic vistas" exploring the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, which was published by Emory University; the university's library holds the Danowski collection.

In 2012, Young's published his nonfiction work The Grey Album with Graywolf Press, and earlier this year, Knopf published his Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems, 1995-2015.

Kevin Young

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