For the Confederate Dead

Kevin Young, Author . Knopf $24.95 (156p) ISBN 978-0-307-26435-0

Much celebrated despite his relative youth, Young has set himself apart from his peers with his supple, variable, blues-inflected line employed in a series of ambitious book-length projects. This bulky yet powerful fifth collection, the title of which references Robert Lowell's famous For the Union Dead , is his first since his debut Most Way Home (1995) without a unifying conceit: its mostly somber lyrics and shorter sequences tell stories of African and African-American pilgrimages and homelands, imagined, fought for and too often lost. Young begins with a passionate elegy to Gwendolyn Brooks and closes with "Homage to Phyllis Wheatley"; in between comes a tribute to an all-black Midwestern town, terse poems adapted from Booker T. Washington's notebooks and a set of short poems, among Young's best, about rural America. Vivid stanzas describe the vibraphonist Lionel Hampton's last performance: "Arthritic solos// hover like a bee/ above the flower, finding/ the sweet center." The volume's emotional center arrives in a sequence commemorating the author's friend Philippe Wamba and recording Young's visit to Tanzania to attend Wamba's funeral. Each component of "African Elegy" takes its title from a reggae song (Wamba loved reggae), and the sequence combines travelogue with inconsolable grief: "All this might be easier if/ there wasn't a song/ still lifting us above it,/ if wind didn't trouble// my mind like water." (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/18/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
Show other formats
FORMATS
Paperback - 156 pages - 978-0-375-71141-1
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.