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James Brown. John Brown’s raid. Brown v. the Topeka Board of Ed. The prizewinning author of Blue Laws meditates on all things “brown” in this powerful new collection–now in paperback.
Divided into “Home Recordings” and “Field Recordings,” Brown speaks to the way personal experience is shaped by culture, while culture is forever affected by the personal, recalling a black Kansas boyhood to comment on our times. From “History”–a song of Kansas high-school fixture Mr. W., who gave his students “the Sixties / minus Malcolm X, or Watts, / barely a march on Washington”–to “Money Road,” a sobering pilgrimage to the site of Emmett Till’s lynching, the poems engage place and the past and their intertwined power. These thirty-two taut poems and poetic sequences, including an oratorio based on Mississippi “barkeep, activist, waiter” Booker Wright that was performed at Carnegie Hall and the vibrant sonnet cycle “De La Soul Is Dead,” about the days when hip-hop was growing up (“we were black then, not yet / African American”), remind us that blackness and brownness tell an ongoing story. A testament to Young’s own–and our collective–experience, Brown offers beautiful, sustained harmonies from a poet whose wisdom deepens with time.
He is the author of twelve books of poetry and prose, including Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015,longlisted for the National Book Award; and Book of Hours, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. Young’s book Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News, a New York Times Notable Book, was longlisted for the National Book Award and appeared on many “best of” lists for 2017. His collection Jelly Roll: A Blues was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry. His nonfiction book The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the PEN Open Book Award, and was a New York TimesNotable Book and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. He is the editor of eight other collections and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2016.
Published by Knopf
Apr 17, 2018 | 176 Pages | 6 x 9 | ISBN 9781524711146