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Thursday April 17, 2014
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Poet Dean Young

 

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Young, who reads at the U-M on Thursday, September 17, is one of a handful of poets now in middle age who have exercised a significant influence on poets younger than they. The ironic distance that paints the surface of many of Young's poems and the wild jumps between images or incidents--jumps that often happen in the middle of lines or sentences--are the elements that have become most recognizable as a kind of "Dean Young presence" in the landscape of American poetry.

But I am much more interested in the plaintive note that often plays below the surface of the poems. For instance, here's the beginning of "Lives of the Mortals," a poem from his collection Elegy on Toy Piano, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize a couple of years ago:

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