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Transcript of Dean Young
Received his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from India University in 1984
Young has written over a dozen books, including "Strike Anywhere" (1995), the winner of the Colorado Prize of Poetry; "Skid" (2002), finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; "Elegy on a Toy Piano" (2005), finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and "Primitive Mentor" (2008), shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize "Centrifuge" is a shining example of Dean Young's distinctive approach to poetry.
Although he certainly has an arsenal of much more confusing poetry, his hard-to-follow surrealistic writing is still ever-present in this poem (juxtaposition and non sequitir abound).
Ex: "One room smells like ash, another smells like fruitcake"
The idea of obtaining meaning through misunderstanding is also exemplified by this poem. "Centrifuge" seems to be about attempting to understand life, and regardless of the confusion encountered within the poem, a greater meaning can still be found.
It might have been midnight when last we talked
and now I've got this poem that keeps flying
apart which accounts under these xenophobic stars
for all force: gravity, magnetism wind, the ling-
ering of a kiss, a judo throw although
there's yet to be a single formula for it.
Save us from single formulas. One room
smells like ash, another smells like fruitcake.
One cardinal sits on a branch, another under.
You've got to be a bird to understand any of this,
feathery and hollow-boned. You've got to be
a claims adjuster staring at a storm. You've
got to be entered by a shower of gold coins.
On the back of a Brazilian book of poems,
the translator looks haggard as if she's chased
a mule cart into another century, the twentieth,
and suddenly she's feeble in Pittsburgh in her
bunny furs. Imagine, suddenly Pittsburgh,
the handful of dust thrown up for the sun's
haughty inspection, laughing its molecular
laugh, hungry again, dazzling again it its
stained satin pajamas like the memory of lost
love. I think we were walking though some woods
towards more to drink, up ahead the future
gesticulating wildly like a beggar who'd
scare us out of money, the future threatening
to isolate us like glum geniuses prowling
record stores, not getting a lot done,
mistaken for clerks with gum on our shoes. I'm
trying not to panic. I'm trying to find the center,
drive a nail through it like a mercy killing. I'm
letting myself be thrown around while Come at me
says the day to the night. Come at me says
the cloud to the moon dragging its terrible noose.
Come at me says L so she can show me what she's learned
in martial arts and now some part of me can't or
won't get up, the ground husky with thaw, fall's
idiot nomenclature garbled in the bramble. I'm
letting my back get soaked. I'm turning into wine.
I'm a broken kore, lips barely parted saying
what? I know suffering does not make us beautiful,
it makes us disappear like wearing black shirts
at midnight, like lying on the spinning earth
crying, Momma, Momma. Young's style is strongly influenced by the New York School of poets and surrealists such as Andre Breton
He blends elements of experimentation and surrealism, filling his poetry with illogicality, dissociative imagery, and erratic shifts in tone, as well as witty and at times strange humor Young's writing style can make it incredibly difficult to understand whats actually going on within the poem
His poems often seem as if they are overflowing, being almost disruptively inclusive
In an interview he admitted that he "want[s] to put everything in." This can also be said about the sheer number of literary devices he uses in his poetry -- all he needs is an excuse to be clever.
In the same interview, he stated that "I think to tie meaning too closely to understanding misses the point" Received the Academy Award in Literature
Awarded a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University as well as other fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown
His poems have been featured in the "Best American Poems" anthology many times
He has taught at the Iowa's Writers' Workshop at Warren Wilson College, and taught at the University of Texas-Austin where he holds the William Livingston Chair of Poetry Young was born with a heart defect, and after many years of struggling with health problems, he underwent heart transplant surgery in 2011
Themes of mortality and references to the heart can be found in much of his poetry Young's witty humor, bizarre imagery, and clever use of figurative language (specifically personification) are definitely present
Ex: " I think we were walking though some woods towards more to drink, up ahead the future gesticulating wildly like a beggar who'd scare us out of money, the future threatening to isolate us like glum geniuses prowling record stores, not getting a lot done, mistaken for clerks with gum on our shoes."