Johns Hopkins Gazette | April 20, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 20, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 31
A 'Tender, Sassy and Cool' Poet

Kevin Young joins a list of visiting poets that has included Billy Collins, Kenneth Koch, Robert Pinsky, Grace Paley, John Ashbery and Sharon Olds.

Kevin Young to give this year's Joshua Ringel Memorial Reading

By Matt Bowden
Center for Talented Youth

The Joshua Ringel Memorial Reading celebrates its 12th season at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 26, when poet Kevin Young takes to the Hodson Hall podium on the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus.

"Tender, sassy and just plain cool" is how former Ringel Poet Billy Collins describes Young, widely regarded as one of the leading poets of his generation.

A 2003 National Book Award nominee, Young is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and other publications. His most recent collection is Dear Darkness (2008).

Young has written five other volumes of poetry: Most Way Home (1995), a National Poetry Series selection; To Repel Ghosts (2001); Jelly Roll: A Blues (2003); Black Maria (2005); and For the Confederate Dead (2007).

Poet Lucille Clifton says of Young, "[His] gift of storytelling and understanding of the music inherent in the oral tradition of language recreates for us an inner history which is compelling and authentic and American."

Young is the Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Creative Writing and curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, a 75,000-volume rare book library, at Emory University.

"Writing is a necessity," Young says. "It's not just fun, though it can be fun, and it's not just torture, though it can be torture, too. I think the point is really to find that middle ground between pleasure and necessity, and for me that's what a poem is."

The Joshua Ringel Memorial Fund was established in 1998 by the Ringel family in memory of the former Center for Talented Youth student whose life was tragically cut short in a motorcycle accident just before his 28th birthday. The fund supports an annual lecture/reading dedicated to education, poetry and the imagination. Past visiting poets have included Kenneth Koch, Robert Pinsky, Grace Paley, John Ashbery and Sharon Olds.

A reception at 4:30 p.m. precedes the event, with a book signing immediately after. Books will be available for purchase at the door. Seats are limited, so attendees should e-mail with their name and number of seats requested.

For more information, go to


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