Best local poet

Kevin Young

Staff Pick

Poet Kevin Young has drawn on musical traditions from blues to jazz to gospel throughout his career, especially in his 2003 National Book Award-finalist poetry collection Jelly Roll: A Blues. In January 2011, the Emory professor published the epic Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels — a personal project 20 years in the making. The volume is something like a collection of demo tapes, with Young appropriating disparate musical forms — aria, hymn, blues — and translating them into poetic terms. The result is wildly varied, a perfect match for the chorus of different voices he invokes to tell the story of Cinque and the other African rebels that mutinied the slave ship Amistad in 1839. The book reveals not only the story told through the poems, but also the story of a poet exploring his craft. kevinyoungpoetry.com.

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