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Dear darkness : poems /
Kevin Young.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York : Knopf, 2008.
description
xii, 196 p.
ISBN
0307264343, 9780307264343
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : Knopf, 2008.
isbn
0307264343
9780307264343
catalogue key
6635518
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Eulogy To allow silence To admit it in us always moving Just past senses, the darkness What swallows us and we live amongst What lives amongst us * These grim anchors That brief sanctity the sea Cast quite far when you seek in your hats black and kerchiefs to bury me * Do not weep but once, and a long time then Thereafter eat till your stomach spills over No more! you'll cry too full for your eyes to leak * The words will wait * Place me in a plain pine box I have been for years building It is splinters not silver It is filled of hair * Even the tongues of bells shall still * You who will bear my body along Spirit me into the six Do not startle at its lack of weight How light I shall be released What we love will leave us or is it we leave what we love, I forget Today, belly full enough to walk the block after all week too cold outside to smile I think of you, warm in your underground room reading the book of bone. It's hard going your body a dead language I've begun to feel, if not hope then what comes just after or before Let's not call it regret, but this weight, or weightlessness, or just plain waiting. The ice wanting again water. The streams of two planes a cross fading. I was so busy telling you this I forgot to mention the sky how in the dusk its steely edges have just begun to rust. Ode to Boudin You are the chewing gum of God. You are the reason I know that skin is only that, holds more than it meets. The heart of you is something I don't quite get but don't want to. Even a fool like me can see your broken beauty, the way out in this world where most things disappear, driven into ground, you are ground already, & like rice you rise. Drunken deacon, sausage's half-brother, jambalaya's baby mama, you bring me back to the beginning, to where things live again. Homemade saviour, you fed me the day my father sat under flowers white as the gloves of pallbearers tossed on his bier. Soon, hands will lower him into ground richer than even you. For now, root of all remembrance, your thick chain sets me spinning, thinking of how, like the small, perfect, possible, silent soul you spill out like music, my daddy dead, or grief, or bothafterward his sisters my aunts dancing in the yard to a car radio tuned to zydeco beneath the pecan trees.
First Chapter
EulogyTo allow silenceTo admit it in usalways movingJust pastsenses, the darknessWhat swallows usand we live amongstWhat lives amongst us*These grim anchorsThat brief sanctitythe seaCast quite farwhen you seek—in your hats blackand kerchiefs—to bury me*Do not weepbut once, and a longtime thenThereafter eat tillyour stomach spills overNo more! you’ll crytoo full for your eyesto leak*The words will wait*Place me in a plainpine box I have beenfor years buildingIt is splintersnot silverIt is filled of hair*Even the tonguesof bells shall still*You who will bearmy body alongSpirit me into the sixDo not startleat its lack of weightHow lightI shall be releasedWhat we lovewill leave usor is itwe leavewhat we love,I forget—Today, bellyfull enoughto walk the blockafter all weektoo coldoutside to smile—I think of you, warmin your underground roomreading the bookof bone. It’s hard going—your body a deadlanguage—I’ve begunto feel, if nothope then whatcomes just after—or before—Let’s not call itregret, butthis weight,or weightlessness,or justplain waiting.The ice wantingagain water.The streams of two planesa cross fading.I was so busytelling you this I forgotto mention the sky—how in the duskits steely edgeshave just begun to rust.Ode to BoudinYou are the chewing gumof God. You are the reasonI know that skinis only that, holdsmore than it meets.The heart of you is somethingI don’t quite getbut don’t want to. Evena fool like me can seeyour brokenbeauty, the wayout in this world where mostthings disappear, driveninto ground, you are groundalready, & like riceyou rise. Drunken deacon,sausage’s half-brother,jambalaya’s baby mama,you bring me backto the beginning, to where things liveagain. Homemade saviour,you fed me the daymy father sat under flowerswhite as the gloves of pallbearerstossed on his bier.Soon, hands will lower himinto ground richerthan even you.For now, root of allremembrance, your thick chainsets me spinning, thinkingof how, like the small,perfect, possible, silent soulyou spill outlike music, my daddydead, or grief,or both—afterward his sistersmy aunts dancingin the yard to a car radiotuned to zydecobeneath the pecan trees.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 2008-08-01:
National Book Award finalist Young (Jelly Roll) energizes the poems in his latest collection with subtle and not-so-subtle references to songs as well as to biblical passages. The book's title alludes to Simon and Garfunkle's "The Sounds of Silence" (1965), which was partly inspired by the assassination of JFK. Occasioned by the death of Young's father, these poems muse on the disconnections of life, generally using free association with religious, historical, and racial undertones, though there are a few list poems. Divided into several sections, this book asks the question, How does losing a parent affect one's view of life and even of one's deepest self? In answer, Young recounts scenes from his own childhood as well as his father's illness, death, funeral procession, and bereavement dinner. Reminiscent of Marc Connelly's play, "The Green Pastures," the final section contains a series of informal odes to various foods that would be found in a picnic. Ultimately, the collection effectively becomes an exercise in soul-searching even as it eulogizes Young's father. Highly recommended for all libraries.--Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Young is a fluid and bold interpreter of American culture and attitude, writing shrewd blues and droll lyrics that upend and undo catchphrases, familiar figures, and down home habits . . . Young reaches for myth but can't resist wit, playing hilarious tribute to aunties and uncles, dealing in double entendres, capturing the topsy-turvy, otherworldly ambience of Las Vegas. And even while deeply mourning his father, he pulls a Neruda and writes funny, sly odes to the ordinary, focusing on food, metaphors for desire, the life force, and death's endless consumption." Booklist "[Young is] perhaps the most prominent African American poet of his generation . . . For all the humor, and all the autobiography, in this big book, Young digs deepest and sounds most powerful when he returns to the unlucky, unlovely, generalized personae of blues, who become in his hands at once a source of energy and a means for elegy." Publishers Weekly "National Book Award finalist Young energizes the poems in his latest collection with subtle and not-so-subtle references to songs as well as to biblical passages . . . Ultimately, the collection effectively becomes an exercise in soul-searching even as it eulogizes Young's father." Library Journal
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly,
Library Journal, August 2008
Booklist, September 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Las Vegas, Nashville, despair, the Midwest, "Bar-B-Q Heaven" and his family's Louisiana home: these are the American places that Kevin Young visits in his powerful, heartfelt sixth book of poetry. Begun as a reflection on family and memory,Dear Darknessbecame a book of elegies after the sudden death of the poet's father, a violent event that silenced Young with grief until he turned to rhapsodizing about the food that has sustained him and his Louisiana family for decades. Flavorful, yet filled with sadness, these stunningly original odesto gumbo, hot sauce, crawfish, and even homemade winetravel adeptly between slow-cooked tradition and a new direction, between everyday living and transcendent sorrow. As in his prizewinningJelly Roll,Young praises and grieves in one breath, paying homage to his significant clanto "aunties" and "double cousins" and a great-grandfather's grave in a segregated cemeteryeven as he mourns. His blues expand to include a series of poems contemplating the deaths of Johnny Cash, country rocker Gram Parsons, and a host of family members lost in the past few years. Burnished by loss and a hard-won humor, he delivers poems that speak to our cultural griefs even as he buries his own. "Sadder than / a wedding dress / in a thrift store," these are poems which grow out of hunger and pain but find a way to satisfy both; Young counts his losses and our blessings, knowing "inside / anything can sing."
Main Description
Las Vegas, Nashville, despair, the Midwest, "Bar-B-Q Heaven" and his family's Louisiana home: these are the American places that Kevin Young visits in his powerful, heartfelt sixth book of poetry. Begun as a reflection on family and memory, Dear Darkness became a book of elegies after the sudden death of the poet's father, a violent event that silenced Young with grief until he turned to rhapsodizing about the food that has sustained him and his Louisiana family for decades. Flavorful, yet filled with sadness, these stunningly original odesto gumbo, hot sauce, crawfish, and even homemade winetravel adeptly between slow-cooked tradition and a new direction, between everyday living and transcendent sorrow. As in his prizewinning Jelly Roll, Young praises and grieves in one breath, paying homage to his significant clanto "aunties" and "double cousins" and a great-grandfather's grave in a segregated cemeteryeven as he mourns. His blues expand to include a series of poems contemplating the deaths of Johnny Cash, country rocker Gram Parsons, and a host of family members lost in the past few years. Burnished by loss and a hard-won humor, he delivers poems that speak to our cultural griefs even as he buries his own. "Sadder than / a wedding dress / in a thrift store," these are poems which grow out of hunger and pain but find a way to satisfy both; Young counts his losses and our blessings, knowing "inside / anything can sing."
Main Description
Las Vegas, Nashville, the Midwest, his family's Louisiana home, the state of despair: these are the places that Kevin Young visits in this, his powerful sixth book of poetry. Facing the sudden loss of his father, Young pays homage to his significant clan: to "aunties" and "double cousins," and a great-grandfather's grave in a segregated cemetery. At the book's heart is a series of highly original food odes, poems that grow out of hunger and pain and find a way to satisfy both. Whether in "Ode to Pork" ("I know you're the blues / because loving you / may kill me") or in addresses to collard greens, catfish, and kitchen grease, Young counts his losses and our blessings, knowing "inside / anything can sing." And Young is still singing the blues, though now with a touch of country and western, burnished by loss and a hard-won maturity, delivering poems that speak to our cultural losses, even as he buries his own, "sadder than / a wedding dress / in a thrift store." What we love will leave us or is it we leave what we love, I forget Today, belly full enough to walk the block after all week too cold outside to smile from"I shall be released"
Table of Contents
Watching the Good Trains Go Byp. 3
Sweet Blood
Cotillion
Sweet Bloodp. 7
Cousinsp. 9
Nineteen Seventy-Fivep. 11
Prescriptionp. 13
Tuff Buddiesp. 16
Bloodlinesp. 18
The Halt-Cartp. 20
Primaryp. 22
No Offensep. 24
Field Tripp. 25
Floodp. 27
Cortege
Auntiesp. 29
Pallbearing
Labyrinthp. 32
Pallbearingp. 34
Victualsp. 36
Hurricanep. 37
Eulogyp. 38
See That My Grave Is Kept Cleanp. 40
Insurancep. 41
Inheritancep. 43
Uncles (Blood)p. 45
Castingp. 47
Black Cat Blues
Close Call
Ode to My Scarsp. 51
Ode to My Feetp. 52
Black Cat Bluesp. 53
Childhoodp. 54
Adolescencep. 55
Ode to My Sexp. 56
Short End Bluesp. 57
Bachelorhoodp. 58
Lost Dog Bluesp. 59
Hang Dog Bluesp. 61
To My Near-Mistressp. 63
Something Borrowed Bluesp. 64
Slow Drag Bluesp. 66
Farewell Tour
On My Mindp. 67
Flash Flood Bluesp. 68
Lime Light Bluesp. 69
Bling Bling Bluesp. 71
Set Listp. 73
Why I want my favorite band to break upp. 74
On Being Blindp. 75
Dirty Deal Bluesp. 76
Ode to My Father's Feetp. 77
Up South Bluesp. 78
Ode to the Midwestp. 79
Ode to the Southp. 81
Uncles (Play)p. 83
Young & Son's Pawn & Gun
Ode to Porkp. 87
Ode to Chickenp. 88
Ode to Crawfishp. 89
Ode to the Buffalop. 90
Ode to Wild Gamep. 92
Ode to Homemade Winep. 93
Ode to Okrap. 95
Ode to Kitchen Greasep. 97
Ode to Gritsp. 98
Ode to Chitlinsp. 100
Ode to Greensp. 103
Say When
Great West Casualty
Lullabyp. 107
Sunday Drivep. 108
Hard Headed Bluesp. 110
Stayp. 112
Another Autumn Elegyp. 113
Burialp. 115
Tollp. 116
Death Letterp. 117
Daylight Savingsp. 118
Say Whenp. 119
Quartetp. 121
Book Ratep. 122
New England Odep. 123
Amenp. 125
Ode to the Hotel Near the Children's Hospitalp. 126
Redemption 5[actual symbol not reproducible]p. 128
Ring of Firep. 129
May Day Bluesp. 131
Not Today
Farm Teamp. 133
I shall be releasedp. 135
I walk the linep. 137
I hope it rains at my funeralp. 140
I dream a highwayp. 141
I don't burnp. 143
I am trying to break your heartp. 145
Cambridge Odep. 147
Dunk Tankp. 148
Everybody Knows This Is Nowherep. 150
Grievous Angelp. 152
I saw the lightp. 153
On Being the Only Black Person at the Johnny Paycheck Concertp. 155
Last Ditch Bluesp. 158
Deep Six Bluesp. 160
Eulogyp. 161
Serenadep. 163
Young & Sons' Bar-B-Q Heaven
Ode to Catfishp. 167
Prayer for Black-Eyed Peasp. 168
Ode to Gumbop. 170
Elegy for Maque Chouxp. 174
Ode to Sweet Potato Piep. 176
Ode to Barbeque Saucep. 177
Ode to Watermelonp. 179
Ode to Turtle Soupp. 182
Song of Cracklinp. 186
Ode to Hot Saucep. 187
Ode to Pepper Vinegarp. 189
Ode to Fig Preservesp. 191
Ode to Cushawp. 193
Ode to Boudinp. 195
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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