Books

This poet will give a free reading in Wichita, and he's kind of a big deal

Kevin Young, poetry editor of The New Yorker and director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, will speak at the Kansas Leadership Center on Thursday.
Kevin Young, poetry editor of The New Yorker and director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, will speak at the Kansas Leadership Center on Thursday.

So you think you don't like poetry?

"Go see Kevin Young," says Sarah Bagby, owner of Watermark Books & Cafe in Wichita. "Kevin Young will make you love poetry."

Young, poetry editor of The New Yorker and director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, will visit Wichita on Thursday to read from and sign his newest collection, "Brown: Poems."

The free event, hosted by Watermark in partnership with the Kansas Leadership Center and the Kansas African American Museum, is 6 p.m. Thursday at the Leadership Center, 325 E. Douglas.

Young grew up in Topeka and has been a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry. In his powerful new collection, he meditates on James Brown, John Brown, Brown v. Board of Education, and all things brown.

In a review of the book published by the New York Times this week, author Dwight Garner writes:

"Young is a maximalist, a putter-inner, an evoker of roiling appetites. . . . Keeping up with him is like trying to keep up with Bob Dylan or Prince in their primes."

In a profile in this week's Entertainment Weekly, books editor David Canfield hails "Brown" as: "Not only beautiful but essential."

"A survey of American history through the 'intimate eye' that only poetry can provide, 'Brown' pinpoints pop-cultural touchstones and their impact on how we live," Canfield writes. "His poems, on their own, pierce in their wisdom; together, they connect to form a vibrant tapestry of black life."

April is National Poetry Month, an annual celebration organized by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States.

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