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Dear Darkness: Poems

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  183 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Delivered in Young’s classic bluesy tone, this powerful collection of poems about the American family, smoky Southern food, and the losses that time inevitably brings “bristles with life, nerve and, best of all, wit” (San Francisco Chronicle).
Paperback, 216 pages
Published July 6th 2010 by Knopf (first published September 9th 2008)
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Andrea
Feb 26, 2009 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really lovely collection of poems, many of which circle around death in some way. Many, many odes—Young often uses odes as a way to memorialize a loved one (ode as entry point of elegy) and his language is crisp and sassy and right on.
Kristin
Aug 14, 2011 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked it. It was a bit uneven as a collection when compared to _Black Maria_ or _Jelly Roll_: some poems were brilliant, others were so-so. But when he's good, he's very very good.
René
Apr 02, 2015 René rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection isn't as cohesive as the other 2 collections by Young I've read (Jelly Roll and Book of Hours). The poems in those other collections all revolved around one singular theme and there was more of a clear momentum that moved the reader along from start to finish. Instead, this collection has several different themes (music, food, family, death, grief, regional identity) that tie some of the poems to each other, along with a number of poems that are less directly related to any of th ...more
Alarie
Aug 12, 2014 Alarie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Despite the title, Dear Darkness is much lighter and more humorous than Young’s recent Book of Hours, which had already secured him a place on my Top Ten Poets list. Perhaps the other book has more universal appeal, but Dear Darkness sure did delight this Southerner. My favorite poems (and there were many) were mostly about family [“Aunties,” “Uncles (Blood),” “Uncles (Play)”] or about Southern food. I saw my own family in “Ode to Pork,” “Ode to Kitchen Grease,” “Song of Cracklin,” and “Ode to H ...more
Brian
May 29, 2013 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kevin Young speaks with deep love as a son of the African American South (and won't it be nice when the "conversation" gets to the point where we don't have to qualify the South). As you read through these poems you'll find yourself flipping to the back cover photo, discovering new details in the portrait of Young's father and grandfather. Here's a taste:
"...You dan't date/ the photo from either face--/ my grandfather baked/ dark from the fields, my father's/ baby fat holding up glasses/ the onl
...more
Roger DeBlanck
May 09, 2014 Roger DeBlanck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
In this heartfelt volume of poems, Young explores subjects that range from homage to his large, extended family and grief over the loss of his father to the solace he finds in celebrating the foods and meals that sustained the camaraderie of his family. Whatever challenges Young faces, his poems reach out with a questioning and yearning for answers. As he revisits painful memories from his past, he is never afraid to show his vulnerability, for he knows his poetry serves as catharsis. Young’s tr ...more
Mike
Jul 30, 2014 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Book of Hours before this, which on the strength of that collection enticed me to read everything by Kevin Young I could find. This collection had its moments, but Book of Hours was so good that I treated it like a page-turner wondering if he could keep up the sublime pace and heaviness of subject. Book of Hours did. Dear Darkness had its moments but with a collection containing so many poems, it's bound to be uneven in spots. I thought it interesting in that it used food to explore the f ...more
Ashley
Jul 26, 2011 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I heard Kevin Young read a few of the odes at AWP Atlanta and have eagerly awaited the release of this collection since then. I found it heartbreaking and brilliant. The mixture of odes to food as remembrances to a time past mixed in with the longing that comes from the death of his father are just amazing. Young has such a grasp with language. He knows how to make a poem sing, and these definitely do. I never wanted it to end.
Ann Marie
Jan 20, 2009 Ann Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Where else can you experience an ode to chitlins, crawfish, and greens? Loved the poems about family and the 70s nostalgia of it all. A poem about riding your Big Wheel and hurrying inside so as not to miss The Love Boat and Fantasy Island is not to be missed. Poignant poems about family and loss as well.
Maughn Gregory
Dec 27, 2012 Maughn Gregory rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I've read a lot of Kevin Young by now and this was the best so far. His autobiographical story poems are sad and beautiful; his many odes to soul foods and body parts are hilarious and touching. Count me as a huge fan!
Peter
Feb 12, 2010 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
I really loved this book. I haven't read much poetry, much less modern poetry but I found this book delightful. I enjoyed the whimsical Odes to various Southern foods. I felt the emotion of the various refrains about the poet's late father. Together this collection of poems moved me.
Lori
Apr 29, 2014 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I especially liked his poems about food and he wove grief into them but in an obvious way. I like the way he writes, need to read more of his works.
Pamela
Sep 10, 2008 Pamela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kind-hearted memorials.
James
Feb 10, 2009 James rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I think I'm done with Kevin Young. This seemed like a book of poems that wouldn't fit in any of his other books.
A. Kaluza
May 05, 2013 A. Kaluza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, books-i-own
Painfully honest and sketched in wisdom, I found this collection to be as illuminating as it was eerie. A fabulous read.
kirsten
Jan 15, 2009 kirsten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
hot damn! i loved it.
Ann Marie
Favorite poems in the collection: Ode to the Midwest, and I Shall Be Released.
Dave Malone
Jul 22, 2012 Dave Malone rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great volume and thick--196 pages. I became interestd in the book when my girlfriend read to me, "Ode to the Midwest."
Stephanie Schultz
Feb 10, 2014 Stephanie Schultz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Got to hear this poet read his work at the U of M. Really helped me with hearing his voice as I read this collection.
Dennis
Jan 08, 2009 Dennis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like Kevin's work, you will love this! Wonderful odes!
Lauren
Feb 23, 2009 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Odes and elegies to pepper vinegar, black-eyed peas, gumbo and boudin? I think that says it all. A heartfelt, playful, biting and elegant collection of poetry.
Tracy
Pretty good stuff. I didn't read all of them, but what I did read helped give me a feel for the poet's voice and the way he sees and feels.
Alison P
Good book of poetry. About a black mans experience in America. Lots of nostalgia (odes to various traditional African American foods, etc). A little uneven as an overall collection.
Jeff
Feb 15, 2009 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although individual poems, this is a beautiful memoir of his family - sights, sounds, tastes, and emotions. A great read some of which you'll return to for a second or third look.
SmarterLilac
Good, but this is missing the precision and attention to craft in Kevin Young's other books.
Joseph
Jan 02, 2009 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Maybe not quite as good as his other books but still pretty great. Still my favorite modern poet.
Diane Kendig
Diane Kendig rated it it was amazing
May 06, 2015
Nicholle
Nicholle rated it really liked it
Aug 22, 2014
Joshua Dollins
Joshua Dollins rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2015
Colin Gilbert
Colin Gilbert rated it it was amazing
Dec 10, 2016
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Kevin Young is an American poet heavily influenced by the poet Langston Hughes and the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Young graduated from Harvard College in 1992, was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University (1992-1994), and received his MFA from Brown University. While in Boston and Providence, he was part of the African-American poetry group, The Dark Room Collective.

Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, You
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“How I would sing

like a kettle to keep you”
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“Daylight Savings"

Like the money the light
doesn't go

as far these days”
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More quotes…