Copper Canyon Press, 2013
"A polis of bees" is what Dean Young calls his heart in "Our Kind of People," and strangely this phrase also demonstrates the vivacity, urgency, and joie de vivre of Young's poetry in this first collection of new and selected work. Young often plays the citizen of several different city-states within the span of a single poem. There is the Young who lives honestly with the vitriol inside his head: "I hate singing / children, as if anything deserves to be so un- / ugly, as if we all aren't on one end or another / of the spear." And there is the Young who lives with wonder inside the tradition and lineage of American poetry. In "Lives of the Poets," Young looks back with awe and uneasiness at the father of American Poetry—Whitman, he writes, is "still an orchestra / unto himself as if every word he ever wrote / was being said simultaneously although / a little muffled." Like Whitman, Young is a wan¬dering poet whose tongue refuses nothing in its desire to taste the multitudes. Strolling through San Francisco and conjuring Whitman, Young sees "the Love-Hate man with rouge in his beard," and reminds us that he’s always "matching the blunder¬ing fundamentalist / syllable for syllable."
This review was published in American Poet, Volume 44, Spring 2013.