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Fall Higher

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  268 ratings  ·  28 reviews
"Young has always stood out for his sharp humor, boundless poetic energy, and sheer readability. If adventurous poetry can sometimes feel like a tenuous tightrope walk, Young's poems feel more like zip lines."—The Boston Globe

"This book reads like a long, breathless thank-you for life's seemingly random jumble of beauty, strangeness, tenderness, and joy."—Los Angeles Times
Paperback, 120 pages
Published October 30th 2012 by Copper Canyon Press (first published April 26th 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 561)
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I was torn with this book: there were some poems that I thought were just stunning, and he reminded me of a surreal/bizarre version of Tony Hoagland with his casual tone and humor. However, some poems just passed right through me like water. It wasn't that they weren't well crafted, but that they were SO absurd or fragmented or random in their associations that I could not pull any meaning from them. (And maybe that is the point: this collection seems to be a postmodern existential or nihilistic ...more
Dean Young is hardly some obscure poet, he has been a finalist for the Pulitzer after all, and won about a million other poetry awards. But somehow I missed this one when it came out. Read it today in one long gorgeous go, mostly out loud. Full of tricks and gimmicks and very small (and sometimes very big) allusions, yet utterly unpretentious and contemporary in the same way Tony Hoagland's poems are. A masterclass on how not to take oneself seriously while still writing poems that catch in the ...more
'I didn't make a pass at your sister even years later at the airport bar.
I was a good glacier.'

'Every accident is organized by a secret system
and you're telling me life isn't personal?'

'Something is always tumbling
down the steps in my chest
carrying a birthday cake.'

'You are a five-foot nerve.'
Cheryl Gatling
My eight year old daughter saw me reading this book, and read the title out loud. She said, "I don't understand what it means: Fall Higher." I said, "No. You aren't going to understand what it means." Dean Young is clever. He is delightfully, dazzlingly clever. He writes images that are striking and original, language that is musical, diction that runs the gamut from smoothly elevated to cheekily slangy. The poems are fun, mysteriously, dreamlike, and often hit you with a surprising stab of feel ...more
Patricia Murphy
No other poet can pack so many images into 103 pages. God it must be exhausting to be Dean Young. Does he ever stop seeing? He's lucky for it, and we're lucky to read his work. But myself, I can't fathom having that many pictures in my brain and getting them arranged together on paper.

"Mostly the world is lava's rhythm."

"Even the alligator, flipped over,
is soft as an eyelid."

"I've lost so much tackle in this stream."

"I love you for shattering."

"Honestly, ouch, beauty is."

"the sea's behaving abom
Amanda Carver
I started reading this months ago and couldn't get into it (because I am lazy). Then the Poetry Foundation announced that it was going to be their book club pick for February, and I tried again, this time maybe with a more critical, I'm-reading-this-for-a-class type of eye, and I loved it. For me, it was a collection of poems that required some work (did I mention I am a lazy reader?), but it's work and attention that pays off.
Reading Dean Young's poetry is probably the most paradox-like experience I've ever had in my life. His poetry is surreal - made up of many concrete images that can be so bizarre to visualize. The strange thing here is that nevertheless, these wild images are accompanied by a feeling that the poet knows you. To me, he really knows how to put into words those fleeting feelings that are very much present though we may not know fully how to describe them. His daring images capture those sensations w ...more
There are phrases in this book that sound so familiar and perfect, like a phrase in the back of my mind, waiting to be said out loud. It's like, Dean Young has seen inside my heart--maybe your's too-- and he knows what keeps it pumping.
Brian Collier
When Young writes, in the poem "Lucifer,": "Mostly the world is lava's rhythm, the impurities of darkness sometimes called stars. Mostly the world is assignations, divorces conducted between rooftops. Forever and forever the checkbook unbalanced..." I feel like he gets me, or at least I'm not some strange, foreign body bobbing up and down in cold waters. I guess that's good writing for me, that feeling like an author is putting his or her arm around my shoulder and pulling back the curtain a lit ...more
As I read this book, I thought of Robert Bly reading a poem of Alden Nowlan's. The poem is straight-forward and then comes the line, "it's one thing to jump a fence; quite another to blunder into one in the dark." Bly stops and says, "That's so strange."

I did that a bit more with this collection than with other Dean Youngiums. Then comes his Non-Apologia:

". . . Poetry paints nothing but it splashes
color, flushed, swooning, echolocating
and often associated with flight
as in Keats's viewless wing
Mar 21, 2012 Mark rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mark by: Sara Q
Shelves: poems-poetry
I should probably say that this simply wasn't for me.

As a physical artifact there is really nothing to complain about, as is usual for Copper Canyon press books. I have many of their hardbacks and paperbacks and they are routinely fine products and a good value for the cost.

The poetry simply did not do it for me, though. There were moments of brilliance but they were often of one clause length or less. They felt very much like pastiches (as in hodgepodges) instead of as coherent wholes. Sentenc
I just don't get surreal poetry. Perhaps I lack the sophistication and I will be the first to place the blame squarely on myself, but this little volume did nothing for me. Considering the reviews I read in the paper, I suppose I was hoping for more.
When I first tried reading Dean Young I was too firmly in the camp of The Need for Accessibility in Poetry to appreciate his oblique angles and bizarre mash-ups. This time around I delighted in his humor and his way of accepting the world without ignoring its horrors. Or maybe Young's just gotten better? In any case I chuckled my way through this most recent book and agreed with the Booklist blurb that noted "Surrealism seldom seems as much like real life as in Young's hilarious and cautionary p ...more
Dean Young is not a poet I return to again and again to feed my soul. His books aren't the ones I want to curl up in a chair with on a snowy winter day. But.... He does speak to me as a writer because he loves language and plays with it in a deadly serious way. He inspires me to write, makes me want to push myself farther. Surreal and funny and ironic and heartbreaking--he's all of them. This book was a great read. If you're a poet, you need to know what Young is doing--study him. If you're a re ...more
Dec 27, 2011 Hafidha rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: poets
Shelves: poetry
As poetry collections go, this one is pretty bad-ass. You'll need to spend some time with each of these poems; not for casual reading in between errands. Thoroughly inspiring, though at times I wondered if Young was being clever. What makes this poetry contemporary is its sense of fragmentation - he fashions all the random, discombobulating pieces of modern American life into a mosaic of sorts, without trickery. There is wisdom here, the wisdom of fully engaging in life and feeling all its hurts ...more
The straight-up rhyme poems kind of threw me (I'm not convinced it works), but loved the rest. Funny, heartbreaking, and surreal -- as usual. Excerpts from some of my favorites:

Have you noticed how ants meet?
Their language single molecules exchanged,
that's why they keep so clean.
They say Here and Hello.
They say Found and How far.

They touch each other all over. --from "After My Own Heart"

~ ~ ~

Love floats its bone in the throat,
sometimes it hurts to swallow. --from "Optimistic Poem"
Dean Young writes surreal, twisty poems made of random metaphors and strings of words no one would have dreamt to put together. Sometimes it strikes just the right note, like in the poem Changing Genres, where life before love is described as a haiku, and everything after is a Russian novel. But most of it leaves me a bit cold, leaving not a spark in head or heart, just a scratch. I love surreal poetry, but its got to be something more than just weird.
John Wyszniewski
It must be me. The collection of poems by Dean Young seemed to be loved by many. And yet, I found their surrealism and tone distancing, but not in a good way. I struggled, unsure which thought was serious and genuine and which was purely absurd. I'm not a fan of the straight and narrow, and I don't need my writing to be easy. I'm up for the challenge, but unfortunately, this collection left me a little dry.
Kevin Brown
I'm not a big fan of the surrealistic approach to poetry, but I thought Young's book was pretty good for that type of writing. He's definitely got a great ear for sound (even using end rhyme in interesting ways), and he has more to say that some of the other poets who write using this approach. It's certainly not my favorite book of poetry, but it was better than I expected.
Truth be told, I think this collection was a little too long. Then again, maybe it's my attention span that is the problem. Regardless, this collection also includes some of the most amazing Dean Young poems I've ever read. And that trumps all.
Not my favorite of Dean Young's books, but there are certainly gorgeous poems here, particularly in the last section. As always, his voice is warm and human, his words both playful and serious.
Probably the best book I've read all year. I don't even have the language to praise it, but the reviews it has received from others (Tony Hoagland, Threepenny Review, etc.) are not hyperbolic.
Megan RFA
What can I say? Just not a style I enjoy, though I feel like a traitor for saying so. Maybe after awhile, I'll pick this collection up and it'll be just what I need.
Chris Schaeffer
Read in a claw-foot bathtub in my girlfriend's mother's apartment overlooking some other large body of Vermont water, I don't know for sure, I don't even know.

Here is a link to my profile of Dean Young:
"Man Overboard" might be my favorite poem of the year.
Dean Young is good for me as a poet.
Alexa marked it as to-read
Oct 05, 2015
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Dean Young is a contemporary American poet in the poetic lineage of John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, and Kenneth Koch. Though often cited as a second-generation New York School poet, his work also resonates with the Surrealist poetry of Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and Guillaume Apollinaire, and if neo-surrealism has a poetic corollary then it is him. His most recent books are Elegy on Toy Piano ...more
More about Dean Young...
Elegy On Toy Piano The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction Embryoyo: New Poems Skid First Course In Turbulence

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