poem index

About this poet

On July 18, 1955, Dean Young was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania. He received his MFA in creative writing from Indiana University.

His books of poems include Bender: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2012); Primitive Mentor (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008); Embryoyo (McSweeney's, 2007); Ready-Made Bouquet (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005); Elegy on Toy Piano (2005), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Skid (2002), a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize; First Course in Turbulence (1999); Strike Anywhere (University Press of Colorado, 1995), which won the Colorado Poetry Prize; Beloved Infidel (Wesleyan, 1992); and Design with X (1988). He is also the author of The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction (Graywolf Press, 2010), a book of prose about poetry.

Largely influenced by the New York School of poets, Young combines aspects of experimentation and surrealism. About Young, the poet Charles Simic has said, "Although his work comes out of the poetries of Kenneth Koch, John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara and James Tate, Young has his own voice. The language, the invention, the imagination and the sheer fun of his poems is astounding. It's not all dazzle either. The poems are also moving. This man reminds us that there is nothing more serious than a joke."

Young has received a Stegner fellowship from Stanford University, as well as fellowhips from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Young's awards also include an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His poems have appeared seven times in The Best American Poetry series.

Young has taught at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, in the low-residency MFA program at Warren Wilson College, and at Loyola University, in Chicago. He is currently the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas, in Austin. In 2014, he was appointed the state poet laureate of Texas.


Selected Bibliography

Primitive Mentor (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008)
Embryoyo (McSweeney's, 2007)
Ready-Made Bouquet (2005)
Elegy on Toy Piano (2005)
Skid (2002)
First Course in Turbulence (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999)
Strike Anywhere (University Press of Colorado, 1995)
Beloved Infidel (1992)
Design with X (Wesleyan, 1988)

Scarecrow on Fire

Dean Young, 1955
Everything is brushed away, off the sleeve,
off the overcoat, huge ensembles of assertions
just jars of buttons spilled, recurring
nightmare of straw on fire, you the scarecrow,
the scare, the crow, totems gone, rubies
flawed, flamingo in hyena’s jaws, noble
and lascivious mouth of the gods hovering
then gone, gone the glances, gone moths,
cities of crystal become cities of mud,
centurion and emperor dust, the flower girl,
some of it rises, proof? some of it explodes,
vein in the brain, seed pod poof, maybe
something will grow, another predicament
of bittersweet, dreamfluff milkweed,
declarations of aerosols, vows just sprays
of spit fast evaporate, all of it pulverized
as it hits the seawall, all of it falling snow
on water, flash of flying fish, breach and blow
and sinking, far below creatures of luminous jelly
constellated and darting and baiting each other
like last thoughts before sleep, last neural
sparks coalescing as a face in the dark,
who was she? never enough time to know.

Copyright © 2011 by Dean Young. Reprinted from Fall Higher with the permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Dean Young

Dean Young

The recipient of many fellowships, Dean Young is the author of many collections of poetry

by this poet

poem
When I saw you ahead I ran two blocks
shouting your name then realizing it wasn’t
you but some alarmed pretender, I went on
running, shouting now into the sky,
continuing your fame and luster. Since I've
been incinerated, I've oft returned to this thought,
that all things loved are pursued and never caught,
even
poem
You don’t have a clue, says the power drill
to the canoe hanging from the rafters.
Is life a contest everything plays
by different rules for different prizes?
You’re really worthless, aren’t you?
barks the cherry tree covered with eponymous
fruit to the wagon lying on its side.
Unfair! Wasn’t that wagon not two
poem
It's not only the word roses
lurking inside neurosis or the fact
that most of my formal education
occurred in the midwest, so too
my summer job inhaling industrial
reactants should be considered.
It's an unstable world, babe.
Always an inner avalanche
as they say in receiving.
I'm sure if I'd gotten a shot
of