Kevin Young to inspire Tulane audience with moving poetry reading

Mary Mac Jones, Staff Reporter

Kevin Young, American poet and Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University, will read from his work at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Freeman Auditorium in Woldenberg Art Center.

Young is the author of 10 poetry collections, the latest being 2011’s “Ardency.” He holds degrees from Harvard College, Stanford University and Brown University and serves as the curator of Emory’s Raymond Danowski Poetry Library in addition to being a professor and active poet.

Young’s midwestern childhood and diverse cultural and culinary experiences evoke the complex patchwork of family members, environments, interactions, and struggles that comprise the true distinctiveness of the American identity. Food and mourning are common themes in Young’s poems. Though many people connect emotional distress with overeating, Young’s poetry speaks to something more than this basic association of food with comfort.

 “The food is used ingeniously as a metaphor for human feeling and for loss, certainly, and for death,” said Peter Cooley, Tulane English professor and director of creative writing.

Young’s unique use of sound and wordplay is striking and masterful. The live reading of his poems will make for a more profound experience than simply reading them silently.

“[Attendees will] get a sense of the presence of the poet, which is very important, along with personality,” Cooley said. “You could even say the soul of the poet.”

Young’s internal rhyme and jarring line breaks will certainly lend themselves well to being read aloud, in the way the poet intended them to be heard. 

Young comments on American society and experiences with unparalleled authenticity and multi-dimensionality. Young’s creativity and competence in expressing layers of conflicting emotion will be at the very least eye-opening and perspective-altering.