poem index


Jake Adam York

1972-2012 , West Palm Beach , FL , United States
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Jake Adam York

Born in West Palm Beach, Florida on August 10, 1972, Jake Adam York grew up in Gadsden, Alabama. He received a B.A. in English from Auburn University, and an MFA and PhD in creative writing and English literature from Cornell University.

His collections of poetry include Persons Unknown (Southern Illinois Press, 2010); A Murmuration of Starlings (Southern Illinois Press, 2008), which won the Colorado Book Award; and Murder Ballads (Elixir Press, 2005), which won the Elixir Prize.

About York and his poems, poet David Keplinger has said the following:

One evening years ago I heard Jake Adam York read from his first collection, Murder Ballads, in a crowded Denver church. He embodied in person what I can best call a gentle largess, a stirring, impeccable urgency. Jake was like his poetry, faithful to the subject of witness, a stern biographer of oppression and resilience, a studious angel borne on the wings of his art, which was song, song, song.

York was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Third Coast Poetry Prize, and a Colorado Book Award. He was an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Denver where he founded the university's Creative Writing Program, as well as the university's national literary journal, Copper Nickel.

Jake Adam York died suddenly on December 16, 2012, at the age of 40.

by this poet


To Yusef Komunyakaa

When I rise from the bank
the water's slow as shadow
in my steps, thick as blood.
The whole river's secretive,
still, dark as roux
cooled in the skillet, as rank,
as sweet, ancient as catfish,
ancienter. The moon's
sifted light clouds rumor
to lilies or daffodils,
an egret on

                        —To Sun Ra, from Earth

You are not here,

you are not here
in Birmingham,
        where they keep your name,

not in Elmwood's famous plots
                or the monuments
of bronze or steel or the strew

        of change