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Bender: New & Selected Poemsby Dean Young
Synopses & Reviews
"In Young's work, the big essential questions—mortality, identity, the meaning of life—aren't simply food for thought; they're grounds for entertainment."—Toronto Star
"Surrealism seldom seems as much like real life as in Young's hilarious and cautionary poems."—Booklist
Bender gathers a generous selection of new work along with treasure from Dean Young's twelve volumes. Strongly influenced by Surrealism, Dean Young's poems flash with extravagant imagery, humorous speech, sly views of the quotidian, and the exposed nerves of heartache. As the American Academy of Arts and Letters raved, "Young's poems are as entertaining as a three-ring circus and as imaginative as a canvas by Hieronymus Bosch. He is one of the most inventive and satisfying poets writing today."
From "Even Funnnier Looking Now":
If someone had asked me then,
Do you suffer from the umbrage of dawn's
dark race horses, is your heart a prisoner
of raindrops? Hell yes! I would have said
or No way! Never would I have said,
What could you possibly be talking about?
I had just gotten to the twentieth century
like a leftover girder from the Eiffel Tower.
My Indian name was Pressure-Per-Square-Inch.
I knew I was made of glass but I didn't
yet know what glass was made of: hot sand
inside me like pee going all the wrong
directions, probably into my heart
which I knew was made of gold foil
glued to dust . . .
"After 10 books over 20-odd years, Young (Fall Higher) has become one of our most imitated poets: his jocular jumps from topic to topic, debts to Surrealist dream-logic, mixture of postmodern oddity, stand-up comedy and weighty pathos land his work somewhere between John Ashbery (to whom Young owes much) and Billy Collins (whose affability Young shares). This big first retrospective establishes Young's limits along with his strengths: poems that accrete one-liners for comic wisdom ('How goofy and horrible is life') sit beside extended anecdotes in older modes, like 'Three Weeks Late' (about a potential pregnancy). Young received a heart transplant in 2011, and it's easy to spot his mortality: 'Here is a semitransparent pebble I picked up/ on the way to my EKG.' Young reprints poems in alphabetical order by title, making it impossible for readers to know which are old or new, as if he meant to disguise any development. The poems can go anywhere, from anywhere, almost too easily — detractors find it hard to tell them apart: 'What about Beethoven's/ deafness, cunnilingus, what is the best way/ to cook fish?' Random comedy rules; yet sadness is never far off — even his weirdest lines can pivot to sum up the human condition. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Only a rare poet can make a reader simultaneously cry and laugh this way.” —Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Dean Young: Dean Young has published ten books of poetry, including finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and Griffin Award. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEA, as well as an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas.
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