Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems, 1995-2015 (Hardcover)
Longlisted for the National Book Award
A rich and lively gathering of highlights from the first twenty years of an extraordinary career, interspersed with “B sides” and “bonus tracks” from this prolific and widely acclaimed poet.
Blue Laws gathers poems written over the past two decades, drawing from all nine of Kevin Young’s previously published books of poetry and including a number of uncollected, often unpublished, poems. From his stunning lyric debut (Most Way Home, 1995) and the amazing “double album” life of Jean-Michel Basquiat (2001, “remixed” for Knopf in 2005), through his brokenhearted Jelly Roll: A Blues (2003) and his recent forays into adult grief and the joys of birth in Dear Darkness (2008) and Book of Hours (2014), this collection provides a grand tour of a poet whose personal poems and political poems are equally riveting. Together with wonderful outtakes and previously unseen blues, the profoundly felt poems here of family, Southern food, and loss are of a piece with the depth of personal sensibility and humanity found in his Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels or bold sequences such as “The Ballad of Jim Crow” and a new “Homage to Phillis Wheatley.”
About the Author
KEVIN YOUNG is the author of ten books of poetry, including Book of Hours, winner of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets and a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award; Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels, winner of a 2012 American Book Award; and Jelly Roll: A Blues, a finalist for the National Book Award. He is also the editor of The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food & Drink and seven other collections. His book The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness won the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, was a New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism, and won the PEN Open Book Award. He is currently the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Creative Writing and English and curator of both Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University.
“Young is one of the most important poets of his generation. Encompassing 20 years of his work, the collection draws from and deepens the African American poetic tradition. Young brilliantly conveys the struggles and triumphs of those oppressed by slavery, economic hardship after emancipation, Jim Crow laws and prejudice that still tinge life today…Tremendous depth and breadth…builds toward the gorgeous work from 'Book of Hours,' where the speaker deals with the loss of his father and his own impending parenthood.”
—Elizabeth Lund, Washington Post
“Young has become one of the poetry stars of his generation.”
—Craig Morgan Teicher, Los Angeles Times
“Extensive and impressive…Young crafts voices that speak to the pleasures and pains of African-American lives, including his own…[his] often stunning confessional lines…will move the reader with their lyric starkness.”