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Dean Young

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Brandon Sangston

on 15 February 2013

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Transcript of Dean Young

by Brandon Sangston Dean Young The Young Young Writing Poetry in Style Centrifuge Dean Young was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania in 1955
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."
Full transcript