Synopses & Reviews
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.
The award-winning “lively and excellent collection” (Los Angeles Times) about the South and its legacy, about African-American griefs and passages, from the author of Jelly Roll and Black Maria, a poet who has “set himself apart from his peers with his supple, variable, blues-inflected lines” (Publishers Weekly).
About the Author
Kevin Young is the author of five previous collections of poetry. His book Jelly Roll was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and won the Paterson Poetry Prize. His most recent collection, For the Confederate Dead, won the 2007 Quill Award for poetry. He has also been the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, and is currently the Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Creative Writing and curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University in Atlanta.