Blue Laws gathers poems written over the past two decades, drawing from all nine of Kevin Young's previously published books of poetry and including a number of uncollected, often unpublished, poems. From his stunning lyric debut (Most Way Home,1995) and the amazing "double album" life of Jean-Michel Basquiat (2001, "remixed" for Knopf in 2005), through his brokenhearted Jelly Roll- A Bluesand his recent forays into adult grief and the joys of birth in Dear DarknessandBook of Hours, this collection provides a grand tour of a poet whose personal poems and political poems are equally riveting. Together with wonderful outtakes and previously unseen blues, the profoundly felt poems here of family, Southern food, and loss are of a piece with the depth of personal sensibility and humanity found in his Ardency- A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels or sequences such as "The Ballad of Jim Crow" and a new "Homage to Phillis Wheatley."
Bunk by Kevin Young
Call Number: OhioLINK
Publication Date: 2017-11-14
Longlisted for the National Book Award for Nonfiction. "There Kevin Young goes again, giving us books we greatly need, cleverly disguised as books we merely want. Unexpectedly essential."--Marlon James Award-winning poet and critic Kevin Young tours us through a rogue's gallery of hoaxers, plagiarists, forgers, and fakers--from the humbug of P. T. Barnum and Edgar Allan Poe to the unrepentant bunk of JT LeRoy and Donald J. Trump.Bunk traces the history of the hoax as a peculiarly American phenomenon, examining what motivates hucksters and makes the rest of us so gullible. Disturbingly, Young finds that fakery is woven from stereotype and suspicion, race being the most insidious American hoax of all. He chronicles how Barnum came to fame by displaying figures like Joice Heth, a black woman whom he pretended was the 161-year-old nursemaid to George Washington, and What Is It?, an African American man Barnum professed was a newly discovered missing link in evolution. Bunk then turns to the hoaxing of history and the ways that forgers, plagiarists, and journalistic fakers invent backstories and falsehoods to sell us lies about themselves and about the world in our own time, from pretend Native Americans Grey Owl and Nasdijj to the deadly imposture of Clark Rockefeller, from the made-up memoirs of James Frey to the identity theft of Rachel Dolezal. In this brilliant and timely work, Young asks what it means to live in a post-factual world of "truthiness" where everything is up for interpretation and everyone is subject to a pervasive cynicism that damages our ideas of reality, fact, and art.
*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 Grey Album, 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'sThe Black Albumand 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 cultureisAmerican 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.
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..
This volume includes newly commissioned poems by Robin Coste Lewis and Kevin Young that offer contemporary responses to Rauschenberg's celebrated series and an essay by MoMA curator Leah Dickerman that explores its making in depth.
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.
Standing at the crossroads of American literature and the current African American renaissance, Giant Steps presents a vibrant and wonderfully diverse collection of young black writing. Through generous selections of award-winning poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by writers born after 1960, this groundbreaking anthology welcomes readers into the future of African American writing.