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Best of the National Book Festival: Kevin Young, 2015

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Each weekday, the National Book Festival blog is featuring a video presentation from among the thousands of authors who have appeared at the National Book Festival and as part of the new year-long series, National Book Festival Presents. Today, we’re spotlighting poet Kevin Young at the 2015 National Book Festival. Please enjoy, and make sure to keep up with the whole blog series and explore the full National Book Festival video collection!

Poet Kevin Young came to the 2015 Poetry & Prose stage of the Library of Congress National Book Festival to read his work and discuss his newest collection, The Book of Hours. Young’s first book, Most Way Home, was selected for the National Poetry Series by Lucille Clifton and later won the Zacharis First Book Prize from Ploughshares. He is also the recipient of the Paterson Poetry Prize for Jelly Roll, which was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His nonfiction collection of essays The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Young is currently the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, recently named a National Historic Landmark, and poetry editor of The New Yorker.

Josephine Reed, producer and host of the podcast series “Art Works” at the National Endowment for the Arts, introduces Young.

Kevin Young’s reading begins at 5:05; timestamps for individual poems are below:

“Limelight Blues” (5:25)
“Ode to Chicken” (7:29)
“Ode to Boudin” (9:23)
“Bereavement” (12:18)
“Mercy” (15:15)
“Codicil” (17:06)
“Expecting” (19:20)
“Crowning” (21:36)
“Hurricane Song” (24:04)
“Strays” (26:01)
“Rapture” (27:24)
“Memorial Day” (29:06)
“The Mission” (30:43)

Q&A begins at 33:50.

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival will celebrate its 20th birthday this year. You can get up-to-the-minute news, schedule updates and other important festival information by subscribing to the National Book Festival blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You too can support the festival by making a gift now.