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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 Solar Perplexus, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2019; Shock by Shock (Copper Canyon Press, 2015); 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 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Skid (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002), a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize; First Course in Turbulence (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999); Strike Anywhere (University Press of Colorado, 1995), which won the Colorado Poetry Prize; Beloved Infidel (Wesleyan University Press, 1992); and Design with X (Wesleyan University Press, 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.


Selected Bibliography

Solar Perplexus (Copper Canyon Press, 2019)
Shock by Shock (Copper Canyon Press, 2015)
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 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005)
Skid (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002)
First Course in Turbulence (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999)
Strike Anywhere (University Press of Colorado, 1995)
Beloved Infidel (Wesleyan University Press, 1992)
Design with X (Wesleyan University Press, 1988)

The Best Way I Can Describe It

is if you ever strapped yourself
to a giant eyeball or tried to hold
a beach ball underwater or thrown up
on a whale watch or listened to every
King Crimson box set at least twice
you know what I mean when I say a crash
helmet’s useless when the crash is in
your own skull. I doubt many of us would do
what Jim did when bears came to his bird
feeders and the end-of-the-world witnesses
came to his door. See what I mean about
the eyeball? The idea is the mind
has wings. The idea being when the dog
runs off in the dark, darkness is your dog.

© Copyright 2018 by Dean Young. Used with the permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Quarterly West Issue 93.

© Copyright 2018 by Dean Young. Used with the permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Quarterly West Issue 93.

Dean Young

Dean Young

Largely influenced by the New York School of poets, Dean Young combines aspects of experimentation and surrealism in his poems.

by this poet

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

Historically, the unknown was used
to staunch battlefield wounds.
Now there’s a spray. The unknown
assumes too much, objects Annabell
trying to break up with herself,
like anyone’s here is the first place.
There are rules about touching
someone else’s unknown no one’s

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