In 1936, David Young was born in Davenport, Iowa. He earned a BA from Carleton College, and an MA and PhD from Yale University.
Young is the author of several collections of poetry, including Field of Light and Shadow (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010); Black Lab (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006); At the White Window (Ohio State University Press, 2000); Night Thoughts and Henry Vaughan (Ohio State University Press, 1994), which won the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry; The Planet on the Desk: Selected and New Poems 1960–1990 (Wesleyan University Press, 1991); Foraging (Wesleyan University Press, 1986); Earthshine (Wesleyan University Press, 1988); The Names of a Hare in English (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979); Work Lights: Thirty-Two Prose Poems (Cleveland State University Press, 1977); and Boxcars (Ecco Press, 1973).
Young’s first collection, Sweating Out the Winter (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1969), was selected by William Stafford, Isabella Gardner, and Stanley Kunitz for the United States Award of the International Poetry Forum.
Young has also published numerous volumes of translation, including Out on the Autumn River: Selected Poems of Du Mu (Rager Media Press, 2007) and The Clouds Float North: The Complete Poems of Yu Xuanji (Wesleyan University Press, 1998), both with Jiann I. Lin; Selected Poems by Eugenio Montale (Oberlin University Press, 2004), with Charles Wright and Jonathan Galassi); The Poetry of Petrarch (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004); The Book of Fresh Beginnings: Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke (Oberlin University Press, 1994); Miroslav Holub’s Vanishing Lung Syndrome (Faber & Faber, 1990); Five T’ang Poets (Oberlin College Press, 1990); Pablo Neruda’s The Heights of Macchu Picchu (Songs Before Zero Press, 1986); and Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies (W. W. Norton, 1978), which was reissued in 1992 and 2006.
Young has edited several anthologies, most recently Models of the Universe: An Anthology of the Prose Poem (Oberlin University Press, 1995) co-edited with Stuart Friebert. He has also published several volumes of criticism and prose, including Six Modernist Moments in Poetry (University of Iowa Press, 2006); Seasoning: A Poet’s Year, With Seasonal Recipes (Ohio State University Press, 1997); and The Action to the Word: Structure and Style in Shakespearean Tragedy (Yale University Press, 1990).
About Young's poetry, the poet Stanley Plumly wrote,
In keeping with the whole heart of all his work, David Young’s Black Lab draws from a variety of sources—a fellowship of poets, an intimacy of landscape, a celebration of the elegy—yet comes, in each of the poems, to a single, and singular, place of rest, calm, and clarity. There is a quality of beatitude, an elevation of the quotidian, a defining of value here. This is a book to carry, to rejoice in on those dark days.
Young’s honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Ohio Arts Council. He has been the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the Cleveland Arts Prize, and a Witter Bynner Translation Fellowship.
Young has been Longman Professor of English at Oberlin College since 1986 and an editor of Oberlin College’s FIELD magazine since 1969. He lives in Oberlin, Ohio.