Dean Young Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although Dean Young is known primarily for his poetry, he has written a collection of essays on poetics entitled The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction (2010), which examines various philosophies and theories in writing and teaching poetry, including sources of inspiration and the relationship between a poem and the reader. He also collaborated with several other poets on the collection Seven Poets, Four Days, One Book (2009), and his work has been anthologized in New American Poets of the Nineties (1991). Young is the cover artist for several of his collections, including Skid and Primitive Mentor.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Dean Young’s third poetry collection, Strike Anywhere, won the Colorado Poetry Prize, and his fifth collection, Skid, was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. In 2006, Elegy on a Toy Piano was selected as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, and in 2009, Primitive Mentor was shortlisted for the ninth annual Griffin Poetry Prize.

Young received a Fine Arts Work Center Fellowship in Provincetown, a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University from 1987 to 1988, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in 1988 and 1996, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002, and an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2007. Young’s poetry has been anthologized in the collection Best American Poetry in 1993, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2006, and 2008. Young is most noted for bringing to modern Surrealist poetry a mixture of humanism, humor, and celebration through his accelerated, disjunctive, and expansive treatment of language and theme. In 2008, he was appointed the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at Austin University.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Harris, Peter. “Difficult and Otherwise: New Work by Ruefle, Young, and Aleshire.” Virginia Quarterly 73, no. 4 (September, 1997): 680-692. This article works to identify a trend toward Surrealism, the use of condensed language and images in contemporary poetry. In the process, Harris examines Young’s collection Strike Anywhere, as well as collections by two of Young’s peers. Although less than a third of the essay is focused on Young, the sections on Mary Ruefle and Joan Aleshire illuminate principles of Young’s aesthetic.

Hoagland, Tony. “The Dean Young Effect.” American Poetry Review 38, no. 4 (July/August, 2009): 29-33. This article works to place Young into the landscape of contemporary poetry by examining his latest work, his influences, and his influence on younger poets. Hoagland works to clarify some common misconceptions about Young’s work and establish him as an important voice in contemporary American poetry.

Logan, William. “The Great American Desert.” The New Criterion 23 (June, 2005). 66-74. In this essay, Logan reviews several new collections by contemporary authors, including Young’s Elegy on a Toy Piano. This review takes Young to task for his poetic style and connects that style to that of fellow contemporary American poet John Ashbery.

Young, Dean. “An Interview with Dean Young.” Interview by Lee Rossi. Pedestal Magazine 53 (May/June, 2009). Rossi and Young discuss poems from Primitive Mentor, and Young’s various aesthetic concerns, such as his serious use of the joke, his poetic influences, his writing process, and his indebtedness to Latin American Surrealism.

_______. “Surrealism 101.” In Poet’s Work, Poet’s Play: Essays on the Practice and the Art, edited by Daniel Tobin and Pimone Triplett. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008. Describes how Surrealism used trauma, confrontation, and destabilization to bring about change. In examining Surrealism and Dadaism, he sheds light on his own poetry.