Dean Young is one of the premier surrealist poets writing today. In Skid, his fifth book of poems, social outrage vies with comic excess. He embraces the autobiographical urge with fury and musically lush exclamations. Whether through the dark facts of mortality or the celebratory surprises of the imagination, these poems proclaim vitality and alertness, wasting nothing. From Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner’s “Meep! Meep!” to remembrances of lost loves and laments about the future, Young’s poems reveal his faith in the genius of calamity and the redemptive power of fun.
Anyone with a heartbeat knows that Dean Young has become a crucial nucleotide in the DNA of American poetry. Who else can bridge the gap between the camps of the experimental and the humanist, jolting both awake in just the right way? Deeply, authentically committed to the surrealist tradition of poem-as-event, also fluent in the lingus Americano (french fries and beer), Young's poems improvise, remember, and discover with an abandon which is furious, mind-boggling, funny, and heartbreaking. So often this poet seems to be holding life in his hands like a gorgeous slithery fabric, exclaiming over its astonishing texture and color, as well as its exorbitant price.
The talky, impatient verse of Young's fifth collection skids all over mainstream American culture and across the language, jumbling comic or startling phrases together in hot pursuit of comedy, shock or charm.""At his best — as in the mock-instructional "Whale Watch" - Young makes one-of-a-kind, read-aloud poems from the verbal detritus he juggles.
Surrealism seldom seems as much like real life as in Young's hilarious and cautionary poems.
Skid is a wild ride, and it's one worth taking.. . . Skid is full of fablous, funny lines ..Young takes on topics as diverse as horses, death, love and the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, all with a sense of humor that is soften lacking in poetry today. But the book is not without its more serious monents. In fact, these moments are all the more compelling for being placed alongside mentions of peacock attacks and fears of strawberries.
Young's poems ignore and gently deride the familiar, anticipated forms of serious poetry—and in doing so they seem to present themselves as less equipped than, say, sonnets, to do their job —and then simultaneously deliver a message of thunderous emotional resonance. . . ."Young's poems are reason-defying but compassionate; the poems don't alienate the reader but accommodate him.. . ."For all his comedic effects, there's some serious work being done here. Young's work withstands and encourages such serious treatment.
Dean Young's poetry at once invites, repels, and surprises. . . . The scattered rush and push of ideas, the energetic narration, and the complex array of visceral images are complemented by moments of stark clarity. Incongruously realistic and surreal, frightening and funny, simple and complx, 'Skid' shocks us with portraits of our everyday lives.
Dean Young has published eight previous books, most recently elegy on toy piano, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and Embryoyo. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts as well as an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.