Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Muse: 2014 Texas Poet Laureate

Let us suppose that everyone in the world wakes up today
and tries to write a poem.
~ Dean Young, The Art of Recklessness

In 2014, Dean Young will succeed Rosemary Catacalos as Poet Laureate of Texas. 

The one-year position is honorary and carries no formal obligations or requirements. The process of selecting and appointing an incumbent is explained in my 2010 Monday Muse post.

* * * * *
. . . [P]oets . . . stare at their own death and through it
they still see the world — the world of 10,000 things.
Poetry is about time running out, to some extent.
You can think of that purely formally — the line ends,
the stanza ends and the poem itself ends.
~ Dean Young in NPR Interview

Described as an "extravagant" imagist*, Dean Young is the author of more than a dozen collections of poetry and chapbooks, most recently, Bender: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2012), Fall Higher (Copper Canyon Press, 2011), and The Foggist (Hollyridge Press Chapbook Series, 2009). Young's Primitive Mentor (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008) was shortlisted for the 2009 International Griffin Poetry Prize. He also is the author of Embryoyo: New Poems (McSweeney's, 2007), Ready-Made Bouquet (Stride Books/United Kingdom, 2005), and Elegy on Toy Piano (Pitt Poetry Series, University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Young's other collections are Skid (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002), a finalist for the 2004 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; First Course in Turbulence (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999), Strike Anywhere (Center for Literary Publishing, Colorado State University, 1995), awarded the Colorado Prize for Poetry; and Beloved Infidel (Wesleyan University Press, 1992; Hollyridge Press, 2004). Young's Design with X (Wesleyan, 1988) is out of print. His 31 Poems 1988-2008 (Forklift Ink, 2009), Original Monkey (Empyrean Press/Center for the Book, Iowa City, 2004), and True False (Inflorescence Press, 2002) were published in limited editions.

A prolific writer, Young also has published a volume of prose on the aesthetics of poetry, The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction (Graywolf Press, 2010). In that book, he describes poetry as "a hunger, a revolt, a drive" but also stipulates that it is "not a discipline."

These quotes provide an excellent introduction to Young's perspective on poetry and its creation:

I make a poem out of what interests me: subjects, phrases, rhymes, 
blurts, philosophies, recipes, dreams, animals, everything I've stolen
from other poems. To some extent my process is most often
a combination of automatic writing and collage and as I make 
the poem I search for thematic trajectories and structural affinities
that provide a connectedness. I want a poem to be a whole thing, 
and I believe in beginnings and endings but that doesn't mean
one is necessarily predicated on or obligated to the other
 in logical ways. . . .

. . . I look to art for . . . corroboration that life is happening.
. . . I want poems to give me a sense of the whorl and chatter
of this world, its terrors and glees, its sheer unlikeliness. 
I don't need a poet crossing guard. . . .
~ Dean Young in BomBlog Interview with Anthony Tognazzini

Like the work of his contemporary John Ashbery, one of three poets (the other two are Kenneth Koch and Frank O'Hara) called "hugely important" to him, Young's is the kind of poetry that most rewards comprehension when read repeatedly. His jumbles of wildly associative, surrealistic images, his plays on words, his wit that can morph suddenly into deep rumination, the sonic qualities of his verse, his rhymes and rhythms and deft use of enjambment, his subtle but deep observations all bid for careful and attentive reading; yet even when taken slowly (difficult, because his lines seem to impel a rapid read), the work can leave one wondering what's been missed or how to respond to the absurdities when simultaneously confronted with the serious. The chaotic-as-life poems, sometimes resorting to direct address ("you", "I", and "we" are common pronouns), sometimes hinting at meaning through titles, comprise line after line of improbable but undeniably imaginative and inventive connections and juxtapositions. ("My poems could start in New Jersey and end up as a meditation on carpentry," Young told one interviewer.) The whole of many reads like a racing stream of consciousness that suddenly, and inexplicably, stops and becomes clear. . . or not.

Themes and subjects in Young's poems encompass relationships, love, illness and physical frailty (Young had a heart transplant in April 2011), mortality and rebirth or afterlife, fate, randomness, gratitude, transience, sadness and loneliness, and also joy.

Young's poems can be extraordinarily beautiful and moving, as these excerpts, especially (for me) the last, show:

When I saw you ahead I ran two blocks
shouting your name then realizing it wasn't
you but some alarmed pretender, I went on
running, [. . .]
~ from "Ash Ode" in Primitive Mentor

The mountain thinks it's the same
without you but it's wrong. [. . .]
~ from "Dear Bob" in Poetry Magazine (November 2011)

Be assured.
April snow vanishes
like footprints of the immaculate
crushing the daffodils. [. . .]
[. . .]
It is the strategy of life to provide
waking until death which generally
it hides until the last [. . . .]

[. . .}
Be assured,
the crows are never out of focus,
the ice breaks into pills the river swallows.
~ from "Bivouacked and Garrisoned Capitol" in Bender
and Elegy on Toy Piano

[. . .]
To be purified by the memory
of touching the arch of your foot.
Fragile are the bones of a bat.
Fragile even the suspension bridge. [. . .]
~ from "Infinitive Ode" in Fall Higher

[. . .]
I wonder what your thoughts were, Father,
after they took your glasses and teeth,
all of us bunched around you like clouds
knocked loose of their moorings,
the white bird lying over you,
its beak down your throat.
Rain, heartbeats of rain.
~ from "White Crane" in Strike Anywhere

Young's poems have appeared in numerous and prestigious literary periodicals and magazines, including The American Poetry Review, The American Reader, Antioch ReviewBlackbird, Boston Review, Crazy Horse, Denver Quarterly, Devil's LakeFence, Gettysburg ReviewGulf Coast Magazine, Indiana ReviewIronwoodJacket Magazine, JubilatNarrative Magazine, New American WritingThe New Yorker, Ohio ReviewPloughsharesPoetry, Poetry Daily, Slate, Sycamore ReviewThreepenny ReviewVerse Daily, and The Writer's Almanac. His poetry has been anthologized often in Best American Poetry (1993, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2006). His "White Crane" is published in Kevin Young's The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing (Bloomsbury, 2010). Other anthologies containing his work are New American Poets of the Nineties (1991),  Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (Random House, 2003), The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry (Autumn House Press, 2005), Mona Poetica (Mayapple Press, 2005), Squaw Valley Review (2008), Seven Poets, Four Days, One Book (Trinity University Press, 2009), and The Plume Anthology of Poetry (Pequod, 2012).

A professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the William Livingston Chair of Poetry, Young has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (2002-2003), National Endowment for the Arts fellowships (1988, 1996), a Wallace E. Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University (1986-1987), the Levinson Prize (2012), an American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award (2007), and a Pushcart Prize (1997). He held the Virginia Butts  Sturm Writer-in-Residence post at the University of West Virginia in 2002, and was the Visiting Poet at Vermont Studio Center in 2000, 2002, and 2004. In addition, in 1998 and then from 2001 to 2008, he taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Young's collection Bender was named among the "Best of 2012" by the Los Angeles Times and was on NPR's list of "Best Books of 2012".


Photo Credit: Texas Commission on the Arts Announcement (See below.)

All Poetry Excerpts © Dean Young

* Texas House Resolution No. 1536 Announcing 2014 Arts Appointments

"Current State Artists", 2013 and 2014, Texas Commission on the Arts

"Dean Young Named 2014 Texas State Poet Laureate", Know, The University of Texas at Austin

Jessica Sinn, "English Professor Dean Young Named 2014 Texas State Poet Laureate", Life & Letters, April 22, 2013

Dean Young Profiles at Academy of American Poets, Graywolf PressPoetry Foundation, Poetry International RotterdamUniversity of Texas

Dean Young Poems Online: "Ash Ode", "Scarecrow on Fire", "This Living Hand" (Excerpt), "Thrown as if Fierce & Wild", All at Academy of American Poets; "Acceptance Speech", "Age of Discovery", "Bronzed", "Colophon", "Crash Test Dummies of an Imperfect God", "Dear Bob,", "Dear Friend", "Dear Reader,", "Easy as Falling Down Stairs", "Elegy on Toy Piano", "Emerald Spider Between Rose Thorns", "Everyday Escapees", "Glider", "Hammer", "Handy Guide", "He Said Turn Here", "Human Lot", "I Am But a Traveler in This Land & Know Little of Its Ways", "I Said Yes But I Meant No", "Interference & Delivery", "Look at Quintillions Ripen'd & Look at Quintillions Green", "Lucifer", "Luciferin", "Peach Farm", "Poem on a Theme by Tony Hoagland", "Scarecrow on Fire", "Sean Penn Anti-Ode", "Selected Recent and New Errors", "Shamanism 101", "Sleep Cycle", "Sneeze Ode", "So  the Grasses Grow", "Son of Fog", Speech Therapy", "Spring Reign", "The Infirmament", "The New Optimism", "To Those of You Alive in the Future", "Undertow", "Winged Purposes", All at Poetry Foundation (Audio Available for Some Poems); "Poem Without Forgiveness" (Excerpt) at The Paris Review; "Second Fall in the Afterlife", The New York Times/T Magazine; "Bay Arena", "Centrifuge", "This Living Hand" (Excerpt), "My Work Among the Insects", "Sky Dive", "White Crane", All at PoemHunter; "Age of Discovery" at Know (Also at Tower Talk); "How Grasp Green", "Changing Genres", "The Rhythms Pronounce Themselves Then Vanish", "Vintage", All at NPR (Audio Available); "Exit Exam" at Griffin Poetry Prize; "I Said Yes I Meant No" at Poetry Daily; "How to Glow" at Slate (Audio Available); "Lives of the Deep Sea Divers", "Lives of the Surge Protectors", "Lives of the Veterans" at Jacket Magazine; "Is This Why Love Almost Rhymes with Dumb?", "Angel of Erosion", "The Fox", "The Euphoria of Peoria", "Today They Will Show Me the Homunculus", "My People", All at Verse Daily; "Commencement Address" at The American Poetry Review; "Elegy on Toy Piano" at Poetry Out Loud; "Red Glove Thrown in Rose Bush" at HealthCetera Blog; "Poem Without Forgiveness" at Slow Muse; "Frottage" at GRothenberger; "13 Piercings & Still Not Punctured" at merveille; "Original Monkey" at Best American Poetry Blog; "Changing Genres" at The Writer's Almanac; "Dear Friend" at Boxing the Octopus; "I Don't Think We Can Still Be Friends", "We Set Out for the Lost Stream", "Bells", All at The American Reader; "Clam Ode" at Crow's Wing Blog; "Upon Hearing of Another Marriage Breaking Up" at Slate (Audio Available); "Ode to Hangover" at Slate (Audio Available); "Sources of the Delaware" at The Nervous Breakdown; "Sean Penn Anti-Ode" at Poetry Daily; "Exit Ovidian" at Boston Review; "Discharged into Clouds" at Threepenny Review; "Sometimes a White Veil" and "Big Paw", Both at Blackbox Manifold 5; "The New Optimism" at Poetry International; "Flood Plan" at Pool Poetry; "Bivouacked and Garrisoned Capitol" and "Bathed in Dust and Ash", Both at Audiopoetry (Text and Audio Available); "Delphiniums in a Window Box" at The New Yorker; "The Illusion" at Readings in Contemporary Poetry; "Not in Any Ha Ha Way" from Skid, at University of Pittsburgh Press (pdf); "White Crane" at Poetry 365; "Infinitive Ode" at exit strata; "Other Obit" at read a little poetry blog; "Exit Exam" at Poetry in Voice; "The Decoration Committee" at Poetryeater; "Sleep Cycle" at Peels of Poetry; "Rushing through the Night" at Line Breaks & Other Violent Crimes on Tumblr; "Co-Sign" and "After Molting, Eat Your Own Skin for Strength", Both at interrupture; "Chest Pains of the Romantic Poets" at Electronic Poetry Review; "Peach Farm" at except in dreams on Tumblr; "Thrown as if Fierce & Wild", "Ode to Hangover", "Selected Recent and New Errors", All at Scrutiny Hooligans; "Scarecrow on Fire" and "Off the Hook Ode", Both at Little Epic Against Oblivion Blog; "Unstable Particles" at Devil's Lake (University of Wisconsin-Madison Journal; Nominated in 2012 for Pushcart Prize); "The Invention of Heaven" in Poetry 180 at GoogleBooks

David Gonier, "Poet Laureate Brings His Humor to Austin College", HeraldDemocrat, October 10, 2013

Adam Plunkett, "An American Poet Outgrows Surrealism: The Unhinged Psalms of Dean Young", New Republic, July 27, 2013

"Nicholas Papaxanthos on Dean Young", Lemon Hound, June 7, 2013

"Poet Dean Young", Podcast, New Letters on the Air,  April 26, 2013 (Young reads from Bender and discusses his participation in Writers at Work, a series of the Kansas City Public Library.)

Judy Holmes, "Nationally Acclaimed Poet Next Guest in the Spring 2013 Raymond Carver Reading Series", Syracuse University News, March 21, 2013

Bobby Elliott, "Ulterior Hands: The Poetry of Dean Young", Huff Post Books, February 15, 2013

Mary Ann Roser, "Poet's New Heart Opens Life's Next Stanza", Statesman, June 18, 2011

Dean Young - A Contemporary American Poet", Writers of the Rio Grande, April 21, 2011

Peter Harris, "Poetry Chronicle: Difficult and Otherwise: New Work by Ruefle, Young, and Aleshire", VQR, Autumn 1997

Anthony Tognazzini, "2+2 CAN = CAKE", Interview, BomBlog, October 31, 2012

"Dean Young", Interview, The Daily Texan, February 8, 2012

Joe Fassler, "Episode 0401:Benefit for Dean Young", the lit show, August 21, 2011 (Live Stream Available)

"The Heart of Dean Young's Pre-Transplant Poetry", NPR, May 23, 2011

"The Rumpus Poetry Book Club Chat with Dean Young", The Rumpus, May 3, 2011

"Dean Young on Intention in Writing Poetry", An Author's Assemblage Blog, Edward Byrne, October 18, 2009

"Six Questions with Dean Young", Sycamore Review, September 2009 (In answer to one question, Young states, "I write, and what I write I try to turn into poems; I don't have any golden journal marked ideas. . . .")

"Joe Milford Hosts Dean Young", Joe Milford Show, BlogTalkRadio, November 18, 2008

Lee Rossi, "Interview with Dean Young", The Pedestal Magazine, Issue 53 (". . . there are some things in my poems that I know are just flat-out goofy. That's a particular kind of delight that I go for, which has to do with the absurd and the element of surprise. . . .")

Eric Weinstein, "Hark, Dumbass: Humor in Contemporary American Poetry", Review of Fall Higher, AGNI Online, August 2013

Drew Calvert, "Bender: New and Selected Poems by Dean Young", Review, The Common, March 25, 2013

"Carrie A. Purcell Reviews Dean Young's Bender",  Poetry Northwest, March 20, 2013

Joey Connelly, "'Bender: New and Selected Poems' by Dean Young", Review, The Rumpus, December 12, 2012

Wesley Rothman, "Very Like a Hummingbird", Review of Fall Higher, The Critical Flame, March 2012

Linda Melby, "Book Review (Poetry): 'Fall Higher' by Dean Young", Flyway, September 16, 2011

Elizabeth Hoover, "Book Review: 'Fall Higher' by Dean Young", Los Angeles Times, June 12, 2011

Amy Smith, "The Heartsick Poet", The Austin Chronicle, April 8, 2011

David Sewell, "Embryoyo", Review, Coldfront, March 20, 2007

Michael C. Leong, "Dean Young, Elegy on Toy Piano", Review, The New Hampshire Review, Summer 2005

Martin Stannad, "To Kill of Not to Kill", Review of Ready-Made BouquetExultations and Difficulties Blog, March 2005

Ian Seed, "Dean Young: Ready-Made Bouquet", Review, New Hope International Review

"Reading by Dean Young" at Blackboard, July 1, 2005

"Dean Young Reads from 'Bender'", Video at YouTube

31 Poems 1988-2008 at Forklift

Bender at GoogleBooks

Embryoyo at GoogleBooks

First Course in Turbulence at GoogleBooks

Fall Higher at GoogleBooks

The Art of Losing on GoogleBooks (The anthology includes Young's poem "White Crane".)

Dean Young on FaceBook

Dean Young Poetry Trading Cards, Fact-Simile Editions

A Brief Guide to the New York School, Academy of American Poets

The New Writers Project, University of Texas at Austin

Poetry Society of Texas

Texas Almanac, State Poets Laureate

Texas Commission on the Arts

Texas Cultural Trust

Texas Poets Laureate Now

Texas Poet Laureate Series, TCU Press

Texas Poets Laureate, Texas State Library and Archive

Texas State Historical Association

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