Poetry 365: Kevin Young

March 21, 2016

kevin-youngThis month for Poetry 365 we’re featuring Kevin Young’s impressive selected volume Blue Laws.  Perfect for those new to his work, this extensive collection includes a hefty helping of unpublished poems along with picks from his nine books including his 1995 debut Most Way Home and his 2012 American Book Award winner Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels.  Whether giving voice to historical figures like Jack Johnson or exploring Southern food, family, and the blues, Young’s poems – as described by Time Out New York – are “alive to their very bones, sexy and sad and true…  Like any great blues, Young’s is universal.”  So plan to spend some time with this riveting collection, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.

Busking (from Jelly Roll: A Blues – Finalist for the National Book Award)

The day folds up like money
if you’re lucky. Mostly

sun a cold coin
drumming into the blue

of a guitar case. Close
up & head home.

Half-hundred times I wanted
to hock these six strings

or hack, if I could, my axe
into firewood. That blaze

never lasts.
I’ve begged myself hoarse

sung streetcorner
& subway over a train’s blast

through stale air & trash.
You’ve seen me, brushed past–

my strings screech
& light up like a third rail–

Mornings, I am fed by flies,
strangers, sunrise.


Russell J. (Readers’ Services)

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