Dean Young was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, on July 18, 1955. He received his MFA in creative writing from Indiana University.
His books of poems include Solar Perplexus (Copper Canyon Press, 2019); Shock by Shock (Copper Canyon Press, 2015); Bender: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2012); Primitive Mentor (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008); Embryoyo (McSweeney’s, 2007); Ready-Made Bouquet (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005); Elegy on Toy Piano (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Skid (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002), a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize; First Course in Turbulence (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999); Strike Anywhere (University Press of Colorado, 1995), which won the Colorado Poetry Prize; Beloved Infidel (Wesleyan University Press, 1992); and Design with X (Wesleyan University Press, 1988). He is also the author of The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction (Graywolf Press, 2010), a book of prose about poetry.
Largely influenced by the New York School of poets, Young combines aspects of experimentation and surrealism. About Young, the poet Charles Simic has said, “Although his work comes out of the poetries of Kenneth Koch, John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara and James Tate, Young has his own voice. The language, the invention, the imagination and the sheer fun of his poems is astounding. It’s not all dazzle either. The poems are also moving. This man reminds us that there is nothing more serious than a joke.”
Young received a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, as well as fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Young’s awards also include an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His poems have appeared seven times in The Best American Poetry series.
Young taught at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, in the low-residency MFA program at Warren Wilson College, and at Loyola University in Chicago. Until his death in August 2022, Young taught English and creative writing at the University of Texas at Austin. Young passed away at his home in Cincinnati. He was sixty-seven.