(LENOX, Mass.) – National Book Award finalist Kevin Young will read from his poetry at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s historic estate, on Saturday, July 9. The event includes a reading, reception, and book signing and will begin at 4.
A 1992 graduate of Harvard College, a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University (1992-1994) and the recipient of an MFA from Brown University, Young was part of the Boston-based African-American poetry group, the Dark Room Collective, which the New Yorker called “a group that could turn well out to be as important to American letters as the Harlem Renaissance.” He is heavily influenced by the poets Langston Hughes, John Berryman, and Emily Dickinson and the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Born in 1970, Young finds meaning and inspiration in African American music, particularly the blues, and in the bittersweet history of Black America. Lucille Clifton said of Young, “[His] gift of storytelling and understanding of the music inherent in the oral tradition of language re-creates for us an inner history which is compelling and authentic and American.” His many books of poetry include Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels (Knopf, 2011); Dear Darkness (Knopf, 2008); and For the Confederate Dead (2007). Black Maria: Poems Produced and Directed by Kevin Young is a “film noir in verse,” a playful homage to the language and imagery of Hollywood detective films.
Young was a 1993 National Poetry Series winner for Most Way Home, a volume of meditations on racism, slavery, poverty, and the meaning of “home” in the collective memory of African Americans. Most Way Home also received the John C. Zacharis First Book Award of Ploughshares magazine. Other collections include To Repel Ghosts: Five Sides in B Minor (2001), a poetic tribute to painter and graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and a finalist for the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets; and Jelly Roll: A Blues (2003), a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award.
Young is the editor of five volumes, including 2010’s The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing; his book The Grey Album: Music, Shadows, Lies won the 2010 Graywolf Nonfiction Prize and is forthcoming in 2012. He is 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.
Young’s poetry and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times Book Review, Paris Review, Kenyon Review, and Callaloo. His awards include a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship.
The event is presented in partnership with the Amy Clampitt Fund. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online at http://www.EdithWharton.org or by calling 800-838-3006.