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For the Confederate Dead: Poems

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this passionate new collection, Kevin Young takes up a range of African American griefs and passages. He opens with the beautiful "Elegy for Miss Brooks," invoking Gwendolyn Brooks, who died in 2000, and who makes a perfect muse for the volume: "What the devil / are we without you?" he asks. "I tuck your voice, laced / tight, in these brown shoes." In that spirit of intimate community, Young gives us a saucy ballad of Jim Crow, a poem about Lionel Hampton's last concert in Paris, an "African Elegy," which addresses the tragic loss of a close friend in conjunction with the first anniversary of 9/11, and a series entitled "Americana," in which we encounter a clutch of mythical southern towns, such as East Jesus ("The South knows ruin & likes it / thataway—the barns becoming / earth again, leaning in—") and West Hell ("Sin, thy name is this / wait—this place— / a long ways from Here / to There").

For the Confederate Dead finds Young, more than ever before, in a poetic space that is at once public and personal. In the marvelous "Guernica," Young's account of a journey through Spain blends with the news of an American lynching, prompting him to ask, "Precious South, / must I save you, / or myself?" In this surprising book, the poet manages to do a bit of both, embracing the contradictions of our "Confederate" legacy and the troubled nation where that legacy still lingers.

Review:

"Influenced by blues and jazz, the poet here is a shape-shifter, with the technical prowess to venture just about anywhere." Library Journal

Review:

"Young high-steps his way through brightly inventive lyrics that illuminate the spiritual richness and dirt-poor hunger of the rural Deep South, with nods to Zora Neale Hurston and a thrilling riff on Allen Ginsberg's 'America.'" Booklist

Review:

"Young's encyclopedic knowledge of American literature doesn't make him derivative; it intensifies and universalizes his work....Besides mourning loss, For the Confederate Dead celebrates the regenerative and enduring power of the imagination." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"For the Confederate Dead is a lively and excellent collection. Even when they're sad, as they often are, Kevin Young's poems make you want to tap your feet. Young's language dances and he has a wry humor that matches the sweet jazz beat of his voice. This is his fifth collection, but it has the daring and energy of a first book." Los Angeles Times

Synopsis:

In this passionate new collection, Kevin Young takes up a range of African American griefs and passages. He opens with the beautiful “Elegy for Miss Brooks,” invoking Gwendolyn Brooks, who died in 2000, and who makes a perfect muse for the volume: “What the devil / are we without you?” he asks. “I tuck your voice, laced / tight, in these brown shoes.” In that spirit of intimate community, Young gives us a saucy ballad of Jim Crow, a poem about Lionel Hampton's last concert in Paris, an “African Elegy,” which addresses the tragic loss of a close friend in conjunction with the first anniversary of 9/11, and a series entitled “Americana,” in which we encounter a clutch of mythical southern towns, such as East Jesus (“The South knows ruin & likes it / thataway—the barns becoming / earth again, leaning in—”) and West Hell (“Sin, thy name is this / wait—this place— / a long ways from Here / to There”).

For the Confederate Dead finds Young, more than ever before, in a poetic space that is at once public and personal. In the marvelous “Guernica,” Young’s account of a journey through Spain blends with the news of an American lynching, prompting him to ask, “Precious South, / must I save you, / or myself?” In this surprising book, the poet manages to do a bit of both, embracing the contradictions of our “Confederate” legacy and the troubled nation where that legacy still lingers.

About the Author

Kevin Young is the author of three previous collections of poetry and the editor of Library of America's John Berryman: Selected Poems, Everyman's Library Pocket Poets anthology Blues Poems, and Giant Steps: The New Generation of African American Writers. His most recent book, Jelly Roll: A Blues, was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and won the Paterson Poetry Prize. A recent Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, Young is currently Ruth Lilly Professor of Poetry at Indiana University.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Mark Shipley, March 23, 2007 (view all comments by Mark Shipley)
Kevin Young's book is named for his poem...a response to a similar poem by Robert Lowell.

Apparently, no one remembers that Robert Lowell's poem, "For the Union Dead," was a response to Allen Tate's poem, "Ode to the Confederate Dead."

A simple Google search will reveal a wikipedia entry that tells all about Tate.

Tate's own poem was an echo of earlier work with the same title by another poet. (As you will see if you read the above wiki entry.)

Strange that Young does not seem to be aware of that fact in the interview published on Powells.com, since he is a professor of poetry.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(12 of 21 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307264350
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
American - African American
Author:
Young, Kevin
Subject:
Southern states
Subject:
African Americans
Subject:
Single Author / General
Subject:
General Poetry
Publication Date:
20070109
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
176
Dimensions:
8.9 x 6.15 x .9 in .85 lb

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

For the Confederate Dead: Poems
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 176 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9780307264350 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Influenced by blues and jazz, the poet here is a shape-shifter, with the technical prowess to venture just about anywhere."
"Review" by , "Young high-steps his way through brightly inventive lyrics that illuminate the spiritual richness and dirt-poor hunger of the rural Deep South, with nods to Zora Neale Hurston and a thrilling riff on Allen Ginsberg's 'America.'"
"Review" by , "Young's encyclopedic knowledge of American literature doesn't make him derivative; it intensifies and universalizes his work....Besides mourning loss, For the Confederate Dead celebrates the regenerative and enduring power of the imagination."
"Review" by , "For the Confederate Dead is a lively and excellent collection. Even when they're sad, as they often are, Kevin Young's poems make you want to tap your feet. Young's language dances and he has a wry humor that matches the sweet jazz beat of his voice. This is his fifth collection, but it has the daring and energy of a first book."
"Synopsis" by , In this passionate new collection, Kevin Young takes up a range of African American griefs and passages. He opens with the beautiful “Elegy for Miss Brooks,” invoking Gwendolyn Brooks, who died in 2000, and who makes a perfect muse for the volume: “What the devil / are we without you?” he asks. “I tuck your voice, laced / tight, in these brown shoes.” In that spirit of intimate community, Young gives us a saucy ballad of Jim Crow, a poem about Lionel Hampton's last concert in Paris, an “African Elegy,” which addresses the tragic loss of a close friend in conjunction with the first anniversary of 9/11, and a series entitled “Americana,” in which we encounter a clutch of mythical southern towns, such as East Jesus (“The South knows ruin & likes it / thataway—the barns becoming / earth again, leaning in—”) and West Hell (“Sin, thy name is this / wait—this place— / a long ways from Here / to There”).

For the Confederate Dead finds Young, more than ever before, in a poetic space that is at once public and personal. In the marvelous “Guernica,” Young’s account of a journey through Spain blends with the news of an American lynching, prompting him to ask, “Precious South, / must I save you, / or myself?” In this surprising book, the poet manages to do a bit of both, embracing the contradictions of our “Confederate” legacy and the troubled nation where that legacy still lingers.

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