Kevin Young Book Signing

04/07/2014 7:00 pm

This event is co-sponsored by the Emory University Department of English.

In Kevin Young's new collection, Book of Hours, poems about the death of his father are juxtaposed with those about the birth of his son. In a recent Fresh Air interview, Young told Terry Gross that those two events have been transformative for his life and work: "It was a way of just writing about what had happened and also the way that the cycle of life informed my life, from death to birth to... a kind of rebirth that I felt afterward."


Kevin Young

On Monday, April 7th, at 7 p.m., Young will bring this powerful new work to the Carter Presidential Library for a reading and discussion. His poetry is consistently lauded for its musical tenor, and this book is no exception. The evening promises to enrich Young's exploration of grief and endurance and celebrate the power of writing in times of loss and joy. 


This event is free and open to the public. A Cappella will be selling copies of Book of Hours, and Kevin will be signing them. 


About Book of Hours:


Named one of ten essential poetry titles for 2014 by Library Journal, Book of Hours is a beautiful book of both grief and birth from the award-winning poet whose work thrills his audience with its immediate emotional impact and musical riffs.


A decade after the sudden and tragic loss of the poet's father, we witness the unfolding of his grief. "In the night I brush / my teeth with a razor," he tells us, in one of the collection's piercing two-line poems. Young captures the strange silence of bereavement: "Not the storm/ but the calm/ that slays me." But the poet acknowledges, even celebrates, life's passages, his loss transformed and tempered in a sequence describing the birth of his son: in "Crowning," he delivers what is surely one of the most powerful birth poems written by a man, describing "her face/ full of fire, then groaning your face/ out like a flower, blood-bloom,/ crocused into air." Ending this book of birth and grief, the gorgeous title sequence brings acceptance, asking "What good//are wishes if they aren't/ used up?" while understanding "How to listen/ to what's gone."



Advance Praise:


"Young's tone is always pitch-perfect in these poems."  - Los Angeles Times 


"An impressively musical exploration of grief and endurance… Young wrestles with loss and joy with enviable beauty and subtlety."  Publishers Weekly


"What could be better, or harder, than death and birth in one book? Young is our prolific chronicler of the state of the African-American union, but also of fatherhood, of son-hood. These poems counter the grief of the father's death with the bewildering joy of a child's birth. This is mourning with its feet on the ground-of the dead father's dogs, Young writes, "Their grief is colossal / & forgetful./ Each day they wake/ seeking his voice,/ their names." He also evokes new fatherhood with all the grit: "Like the rest of us," he says to his newborn son, "You swim / In your own piss." Young has captured true adulthood between the covers of a book."  - Craig Morgan Teicher for National Public Radio 


"A compact daybook of grief . . . Part of the power of this new work comes from Young's having written about his father's death before. But these poems take a new approach, darker and more direct than the elegies for his father that appeared in his book Dear Darkness. It may not be right to call these new poems elegies at all, because their concern is not with the dead but with the living and what it is like to be left behind with death."  -The American Scholar







Carter Library
441 Freedom Parkway
Postal Code:
United States