Monday, September 5, 2016

Monday Muse: Poet Katherine E. Young

Our new Poet Laureate will work with 
our community to awaken the poet in all of us.
~ Michelle Isabelle-Stark
Director, Cultural Affairs Division, Arlington Economic Development

Monday Muse readers know that I usually do not write about local (i.e., city or county) Poets Laureate. Today, I'm making my one exception, because Arlington County, Virginia, where I live, recently appointed its first Poet Laureate: Katherine E. Young. Young was selected by poet and playwright Grace Cavalieri, host of the Library of Congress podcasts "The Poet and the Poem".

The county position, which is accompanied by an honorarium of $1,500 annually, requires the appointee to write at least two original poems a year that address events of special civic importance, and to present the poems at public readings; officiate at up to three special events (e.g., inauguration of an elected official, memorializing a loss or a tragic event) by sharing an original work or reading others' words of reflection; facilitating two community engagement programs each year (e.g., workshops, readings, student events) that, in concert with Arlington Public Library and Arlington Cultural Affairs, promote widespread awareness and appreciation of poetry in written and spoken forms; and serving as a juror of the annual Moving Words: Poetry in Public Transportation competition. For the latter, the poet laureate also is to contribute annually a poem that will be displayed with winners' poems on Arlington's ART buses. (The ARTS buses operate solely within the county.)

The post is for two years. (Young was installed officially on July 19. At her installation, she read her poem "Evening Storm, Ballston"; watch the video.)

A poet, translator of Russian poetry and prose, and reviewer, Young, according to Arlington County's news release, was one of 17 poets whose submission was deemed eligible for the post. 

* * * * *
A poet is the conscience of a community.
~ Diane Kresh, Library Director, Arlington County

Katherine E. Young is the author of Day of the Border Guards (University of Arkansas Press Miller Williams Poetry Series, 2014), which was designated 2014 Finalist for the Miller Williams Poetry Prize, received an Honorable Mention by the North Carolina Poetry Society's Brockman-Campbell Award  panel, and was listed among Beltway Poetry Quarterly's "Best Books of 2014".

Young also has written two chapbooks: Van Gogh in Moscow (Pudding House Press, 2008) and Gentling the Bones (Finishing Line Press, 2007).

Young is the recipient of several poetry awards, among others: Third Place, 2014 Joseph Brodsky-Stephen Spender Prize (for translations of Xenia Emelyanova); Third Place, 2011 Joseph Brodsky-Stephen Spender Prize (for translation of "Yuri Gagarin Was a Great Russian Poet" by Inna Kabysh); and Finalist,  Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation (for Cat & Mouse: Selected Poems, Young's full-length collection of translations of Kaybsh's poetry). She was named a Hawthornden Fellow in 2015. 

Here are excerpts from several of Young's poems:

A moment for a painting: crisp, clean,
snow sparking over hill and hollow, barest
green halo hovering above branches.
Taiga: the word smells fresh, unstained. [. . .]
~ from "Siberian Spring"

When his knuckles graze my cheek,
the blow lands soft, almost gentle,
as if he's decided in midair
to take it back, but can't stop.
Most people keep eating; [. . .]
~ from "Soup"

Here in the mountains, it's the same old plot:
the swearing of oaths, laying of snares, some
modern-day Lady MacBeth checking voicemail.
Thus begins the hurly-burly. [. . . ]
~ from "Lady Macbeth in the Caucasus" in Day of the Border Guards

Such well-known literary periodicals as The Carolina Quarterly, The Chattahoochee Review, Exchanges Literary JournalGargoyleThe Iowa ReviewThe Massachusetts Review, Naugatuck River ReviewNotre Dame ReviewPoetry DailyPrairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Southern Poetry, and Waxwing have published Young's work. The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry includes Young's translations of Vladimir Kornilov (1928-2002). The excellent Poet Lore as well as Innisfree Poetry Journal have published Young's reviews and criticism.

The Poet in Residence in 2015 at Shakespeare Theatre Company (Poets Are Present program), Washington, D.C., Young has read in numerous venues, both in the United States (Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Washington, D.C.) and abroad (Oxford, Gloucestershire, Edinburgh).

Young, who has been a county resident for 30 years and also has lived in the former Soviet Union and Russia, has participated in the Arlington Cultural Affairs-Arlington Public Schools Humanities Project, "Pick a Poet", during which she taught K-12 students. 


Photo: Image Gallery, Arlington County Newsroom; Credit: Samantha H. Collins

Arlington County, Virginia Poet Laureate Program (Purpose, Duties, Review Criteria, Selection Process, Terms, and Honorarium, Timeline)

"Arlington County Names Its First Poet Laureate", Arlington County News Release, June 24, 2016

"Arlington Names First Poet Laureate", ARLNow, June 27, 2016

Katherine E. Young Poems Online: "For My Beloved" and "Old Maps", "The Cow", "City of Bells", and "Kingdom of Heaven" (from Day of the Border Guards), All at Beltway Poetry; "Centralized Heating" at Beltway Poetry; "Lermontov's Room" at Beltway Poetry; "Hazmat"  at The Poetry Center at Smith College; "Yuri Gagarin Was a Great Russian Poet" (Translation), Text and Videopoem at Artist's Proof Editions; "Siberian Spring", "Knitting in Siberia", and "Day of the Border Guards", All at (Audio Available); "September Was Ending, by Inna Kabysh" (Translation) at Tupelo Quarterly; "Bright Nostalgia: Poems for Osip Mandelstam" at Archipelago; "Enough"and "Soul Food", Both at Prime Number Magazine; "One person settles inside another", "So it came together", and "Spring rain beats on broken branches" (Translations), All at From the Fishouse (Audio Available); "Leaving Home", "Soup", and "Postcards from the Floating World", All at Connotation Press; "[The whole soldier doesn't suffer]" (Translation) at Words without Borders; "About Blue: Velestovo" and "This Summer" (Translations), Both at The White Review; "Bar at the Folies-Bergere", "The Moor Browses Books in Baghdad", and "All the World's a Stage", All at Asides (Shakespeare Theatre Company); "Five Poems by Inna Kabysh" (Translations) at Exchanges Literary Journal; "Van Gogh in Moscow" at Sharing Poetry on Tumblr; "Driving to Juniata" at Qarrtsiluni (Audio Available); "The Last Flight of the Gypsy King" and "V-E Day", Both at Juniata (pdf); "Driving the M8" at Innisfree Poetry Journal; "Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts" at A Thing for Poetry Blog; "Lermontov's Room" at ars poetica; "Day of the Border Guards", "Reading Mr. Lincoln's Army", and "Old Maps", All at Poem of the Week; "Forty Years Later" and "Freedom" by Vladimir Kornilov (Translations), Both at Innisfree Poetry Journal

A generous number of Young's poems are featured at the poet's Website. See Poetry Sampler. Also see Translation Sampler. In addition, view Young's translations of Inna Kabysh's poems in the online quarterly journal Trafika Europe (a publication of PennState University Libraries).

Two Poems by Inna Kabysh, Translated from the Russian by Katherine E. Young (Artist's Proof Editions, 2014)

Two Poems on iTunes

Katherine E. Young, "Sound and Sense: A Poet Translates" in Loch Raven Review 

George Drew, Review of Day of the Border Guards at Valparaiso Review

Day of the Border Guards: Poems on Amazon

Day of the Border Guards at GoogleBooks

The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry on GoogleBooks

Katherine E. Young on FaceBook

Paulette Beete, "Art Talk with NEA Literature Translation Fellow Katherine E. Young", NEA Art Works Blog, August 30, 2016

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