Rounding up April and National Poetry Month, I wanted to feature a living breathing poet. A person I thought of is Kevin Young. He was initially formally acknowledged in 1993 when he won awards for his first books of poems Most Way Home. Since then, Young’s published a number of books of poetry including To Repel Ghosts: Five Sides in B Minor (2001), a poetic tribute to painter and graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat; Jelly Roll: A Blues (2003); For the Confederate Dead (2007); Dear Darkness (2008); and Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels (2011).
Kevin Young is regarded as a poet and a writer “who finds meaning and inspiration in African American music, particularly the blues, and in the bittersweet history of Black America.” I believe it was his collection of poems Jelly Roll: A Blues where I first heard of him. I had hoped to find a copy of this collection at a local library and wasn’t able to. Instead I found Mr. Young’s 2008 book of poems Dear Darkness. Here are three poems from this collection:
I am tired of this place & want to take
a slow train to the moon—
Just jump the rails out past the pale
Peeling walls of this here room.
I feel like a dog that done lost his tail,
& keeps barking: soon? so soon?
Lay down outstretched among hail
& fallen stars, the rain’s raggy tune.
On Being Blind
Hard to compare pain—
So when the shortsighted
Pale girl lost her glasses
Whirling her hair
And arms on the dance floor
We all quit dancing.
To look. From the stand the blind
Blues singer stopped to announce
Someone has lost their specs—
But she shouted back, No, eyes!
I’ve lost my eyes! Beneath his shades
The black and bluesman just smiled
And reached further
Into his monogrammed
Holster of harmonicas.
Sleep, shelter me.
me back into the deck
where I belong—
Sing no shout
your favorite song
until I fall
into your empty arms.
Let me be what
dust has to be, settling
& I promise to dream
of new houses & old
loves not longer, I swear,
I will summon no one
if you make me
**A review of Dear Darkness: Poems by Kevin Young can be found at this web page: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/30/DDUE1391MV.DTL