Blue Laws

Longlist, National Book Awards 2016 for Poetry

Blue Laws by Kevin Young book cover
ISBN 9780385351508
Alfred A. Knopf
Kevin Young author photo, credit Melanie Dunea
Kevin Young

Kevin Young is the author of a previous work of nonfiction, The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, which was a New York Times Notable Book, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism, and the winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. More about this author >

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Blue Laws gathers poems written over the past two decades, drawing from all nine of Kevin Young’s previously published books of poetry and including a number of uncollected, often unpublished, poems. From his stunning lyric debut (Most Way Home, 1995) and the amazing “double album” life of Jean-Michel Basquiat (2001, “remixed” for Knopf in 2005), through his brokenhearted Jelly Roll: A Blues (2003) and his recent forays into adult grief and the joys of birth in Dear Darkness (2008) and Book of Hours (2014), this collection provides a grand tour of a poet whose personal poems and political poems are equally riveting. Together with wonderful outtakes and previously unseen blues, the profoundly felt poems here of family, Southern food, and loss are of a piece with the depth of personal sensibility and humanity found in his Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels or bold sequences such as “The Ballad of Jim Crow” and a new “Homage to Phillis Wheatley.”