Dean Young

Dean Young

Past Event: Tuesday, October 2, 2012

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Young has published over a dozen books, including Elegy on Toy Piano, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2005. In addition, he has been the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1988 and 1996), the Stegner Fellowship Program at Stanford University, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. His poems have been included in Best American Poetry seven times.

Dean Young was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania in 1955. In 1978 he received a B.A. in English with honors from Indiana University. In 1984 he returned to Indiana and completed an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Born with a heart defect, Young faced health problems for many years and underwent a heart transplant surgery in 2011. It’s no coincidence then, that one can often find references to the heart in his work. A few days after the surgery, his book Fall Higher was released. In a post-surgery interview with NPR Young said of the imagery of hearts in his work: “a lot of times, it’s not just a metaphor. It’s—for me, it’s an actual concern.” His latest book, Bender: New and Selected Poems will be released this fall.

His distinctive style employs the use of surrealism and dissociative imagery and has been heralded as “jazzy, imagistic, ironic, romantic, humorous…and accessible” by Tony Hoagland in The American Poetry Review. At the presentation of his Academy Award in Literature, it was said that his poems “are as entertaining as a three-ring circus and as imaginative as a canvas by Hieronymus Bosch.” Young has said of his own work, “I think to tie meaning too closely to understanding misses the point.”

His other works include: Strike Anywhere (1995), Skid (2002), Primitive Mentor (2008), and a book of prose: The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction (2010). He is currently the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas-Austin and has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the M.F.A. program at the Warren Wilson College.

Dean Young’s responses to the “Proust Questionnaire”