Brown
James Brown. John Brown's raid. Brown v. the Topeka Board of Ed. The prize-winning author of Blue Laws meditates on all things "brown" in this powerful new collection.Divided into "Home Recordings" and "Field Recordings," Brown speaks to the way personal experience is shaped by culture, while culture is forever affected by the personal, recalling a black Kansas boyhood to comment on our times. From "History"--a song of Kansas high-school fixture Mr. W., who gave his students "the Sixties / minus Malcolm X, or Watts, / barely a march on Washington"--to "Money Road," a sobering pilgrimage to the site of Emmett Till's lynching, the poems engage place and the past and their intertwined power. These thirty-two taut poems and poetic sequences, including an oratorio based on Mississippi "barkeep, activist, waiter" Booker Wright that was performed at Carnegie Hall and the vibrant sonnet cycle "De La Soul Is Dead," about the days when hip-hop was growing up ("we were black then, not yet / African American"), remind us that blackness and brownness tell an ongoing story. A testament to Young's own--and our collective--experience, Brown offers beautiful, sustained harmonies from a poet whose wisdom deepens with time.

Brown Details

TitleBrown
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseApr 17th, 2018
PublisherKnopf Publishing Group
ISBN-139781524732547
Rating
GenrePoetry, Race, Cultural, African American, Nonfiction, Contemporary

Brown Review

  • Paltia
    January 1, 1970
    Kevin Young writes poetry with so much heart and a swinging sense of inner beauty. Elegies to ease your burdens. Road maps to reflection. Bouncing rhythms of movement. Hey world, here he is, calling out to anyone who cares to listen. This is poetry that melts into your long term memory to stay with you forever. Gentle and graceful. Wild and wailing. Muchas gracias Bonnie G. for having the sensibility to recommend this one. I need my own copy to keep close.
    more
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    This is my favorite collection from Kevin Young yet!Publisher blurb: "Divided into “Home Recordings” and “Field Recordings,” Brown speaks to the way personal experience is shaped by culture, while culture is forever affected by the personal, recalling a black Kansas boyhood to comment on our times."Kansas boyhood= baseball poetryOur times= moving, devastating tributes to young black men killed needlessly.My favorites include all the parts of "De La Soul is Dead," which quotes a different 90s This is my favorite collection from Kevin Young yet!Publisher blurb: "Divided into “Home Recordings” and “Field Recordings,” Brown speaks to the way personal experience is shaped by culture, while culture is forever affected by the personal, recalling a black Kansas boyhood to comment on our times."Kansas boyhood= baseball poetryOur times= moving, devastating tributes to young black men killed needlessly.My favorites include all the parts of "De La Soul is Dead," which quotes a different 90s song in each one, and "Hive."I received an advanced reader copy of this from the publisher through Edelweiss. It comes out April 17, 2018.
    more
  • Ken
    January 1, 1970
    As poetry books go, this is a big 'un. Kevin Young if nothing if not prolific, both books and poems-wise. This baby has a little of everything, starting with childhood and school days poems and working up to civil rights works and tributes to black men who were the victim of racist violence. Throughout, like a refrain, the words "brown" and "black" appear again and again in different ways.My only complaint is the overuse of tercets, especially in the entire first section of the book. If you ever As poetry books go, this is a big 'un. Kevin Young if nothing if not prolific, both books and poems-wise. This baby has a little of everything, starting with childhood and school days poems and working up to civil rights works and tributes to black men who were the victim of racist violence. Throughout, like a refrain, the words "brown" and "black" appear again and again in different ways.My only complaint is the overuse of tercets, especially in the entire first section of the book. If you ever thought you'd never care about stanzas, that view may be put to the test here after so many 3-lined stanzas. Luckily, later in the book, Young mixes it up.
    more
  • Libby
    January 1, 1970
    Kevin Young is the poetry editor of ‘The New Yorker’ and has published thirteen books of poetry. In this book, he gives voice to all things brown. I’m far from a poetry expert, but you don’t have to be one to enjoy these poems. Some of them are snappy, there’s a nice sense of rhythm. Some are upbeat, others more somber, taking on weighty subjects. A poem about Trayvon Martin talks about the list growing longer and “the soft song of your skull as an infant” which makes me think how we all start Kevin Young is the poetry editor of ‘The New Yorker’ and has published thirteen books of poetry. In this book, he gives voice to all things brown. I’m far from a poetry expert, but you don’t have to be one to enjoy these poems. Some of them are snappy, there’s a nice sense of rhythm. Some are upbeat, others more somber, taking on weighty subjects. A poem about Trayvon Martin talks about the list growing longer and “the soft song of your skull as an infant” which makes me think how we all start out the same way, as innocent souls. There’s another poem about Tamir Rice and one about Michael Brown. Young writes about playing sports as a young boy and how they were up against teams that had uniforms, while they did not, about how they were the underdog team and didn’t win any games. But they got better and better, until one day, they did win. At the end of the game, the other team spits in their hands when they came around to shake hands, and say, ‘Good game.” Poetry sometimes makes scenes like these stick in my mind. While there are many poems with great imagery like this, my favorite is the last poem in the book, entitled ‘The Hive.’ It is short and full of power. Instead of ‘The End’ at the end of his book of poems, there’s a screen door with the words “sorry… Closed.” Very creative! Highly recommended for those who enjoy poetry or nice rhythms and potent imagery, but also an insightful and reflective way of looking at current and other events.
    more
  • Ellie
    January 1, 1970
    Reads with rhythm, like songs of passion and sadness. Many poems documenting (in poetry of course) racism and the human cost. There is also elegiac poems about the young and their passions. A beautiful collection.
  • Shirleen R
    January 1, 1970
    Fantastic collection. Kevin Young divides the collection into sections such as school athletics, hip hop of his youth, Kansas, and young blackn young black boys in their wrestling, baseball, and other team escapades surprised and delighted me . Frankly, I forget the *beauty* of these games. That athletics and arts, sports and literature are not antithetical. These poems are intimate and honest. Their growing young black subjects aspire to turn sports places into college scholarships. They voice Fantastic collection. Kevin Young divides the collection into sections such as school athletics, hip hop of his youth, Kansas, and young blackn young black boys in their wrestling, baseball, and other team escapades surprised and delighted me . Frankly, I forget the *beauty* of these games. That athletics and arts, sports and literature are not antithetical. These poems are intimate and honest. Their growing young black subjects aspire to turn sports places into college scholarships. They voice anxiety over their wrestling weight and their body image. They devote themselves to their coaches and teachers, and those teachers raise them up, but as easily say racist comments that dehumanize their Black players, and demoralize them. Overall, I liked how Young's poetry reminds us that early Black sports legends Arthur Ashe (tennis), the Harlem Globetrotters (basketball), or Reggie Jackson (baseball) were as artful as they were powerful I loved Young's love of language. The way he extracts favorite lines from hip-hop classics in the poetry section "Field Recordings", 'Ode to Dirty Bastard' or 'De La Soul is Dead'The final section 4 pays tribute to Emmitt Till, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown. A synesthetic confluence occurs again, when Young pairs visual images with oral poetry tradition. IN titles like Triptych for Trayvon: Not Guilty (A Frieze for Sandra Bland); Limbo (A Fresco for Tamir Rice), Nightstick (A Mural for Michael Brown), Young's emblematic painting forms insist that Bland, Rice, Brown remain visible, imho. I know Kevin Young the critical thinker and researcher. He is Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and prior to the Schomburg, Young was a Professor at Emory University. IOW, I think of Young as the panel moderator, or the talking expert who gives "blurbs" and "soundbites" when racial conflicts hit the news events. Add to Young's portfolio, he is an adept researcher. Last year he published Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News (2017). I didn't know what to expect of his poetry, but I sense poetry is his first love and perhaps his most solid writing ground.
    more
  • Bonnie G.
    January 1, 1970
    This is why I love the Book Riot Read Harder challenge; I rarely read poetry, and read this in response to the Read Harder prompt "A collection of poetry published since 2014. The collection was wonderful, not a weak piece. I was particularly delighted with Ode to the Harlem Globetrotters (turning tears into confetti is one of the most heartbreaking and true allusions I have heard.) De la Soul is Dead was a close second, and the best laugh came in the Ode to Old Dirty Bastard. And there are a This is why I love the Book Riot Read Harder challenge; I rarely read poetry, and read this in response to the Read Harder prompt "A collection of poetry published since 2014. The collection was wonderful, not a weak piece. I was particularly delighted with Ode to the Harlem Globetrotters (turning tears into confetti is one of the most heartbreaking and true allusions I have heard.) De la Soul is Dead was a close second, and the best laugh came in the Ode to Old Dirty Bastard. And there are a lot of laughs, a lot of joy in this collection, but it takes its place beside a lot of anger, a lot of frustration and confusion. The Emmett Till piece is gutting and adds depth to the stark pain as Young invokes the names of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland and other more recent victims of the devaluation of black lives. This slim volume touches on every aspect of brown-ness in a way that demands real reflection rather than just visceral response, and at this moment in time I can't imagine a more noble and necessary thing to demand than reflection.One note: Young wears his love of music well. In addition to the omnipresent references to music, (from Prince to ODB to James Brown to Jim Carroll to Radiohead to Leadbelly) there is a rich musicality to Young's poetry, and listening to him read on the audio was a real advantage for me.
    more
  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    This book is an education, immersive in the way excellent fantasy novels often are. Inasmuch as it's possible to grok another culture, Brown has invited me into the experience of growing up black in America. The racism, yes, and the violence perpetrated against, but also sports and music, friendship and fatherhood, the rhythm of language and the claiming of heritage and history, heroes and tremulous, pained hope. I want to read more of Young's poetry...and once I have, I'm coming back to This book is an education, immersive in the way excellent fantasy novels often are. Inasmuch as it's possible to grok another culture, Brown has invited me into the experience of growing up black in America. The racism, yes, and the violence perpetrated against, but also sports and music, friendship and fatherhood, the rhythm of language and the claiming of heritage and history, heroes and tremulous, pained hope. I want to read more of Young's poetry...and once I have, I'm coming back to discover these again.
    more
  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    Stunning. The path through "De La Soul Is Dead" — as through baseball games and wrestling matches, as along train tracks — is beautifully, meticulously, tensely crafted. Other favorites include the two-line "Ode to Big Pun," "I doubt it" and the "Sunflower" section of "Ad Astra Per Aspera." But the final poem, "Hive," the distillation of Young's gentle, hopeful tenderness in all the poems about his son, is my favorite of them all: Let him be right. Let the gods look awayas always. Let this boy Stunning. The path through "De La Soul Is Dead" — as through baseball games and wrestling matches, as along train tracks — is beautifully, meticulously, tensely crafted. Other favorites include the two-line "Ode to Big Pun," "I doubt it" and the "Sunflower" section of "Ad Astra Per Aspera." But the final poem, "Hive," the distillation of Young's gentle, hopeful tenderness in all the poems about his son, is my favorite of them all: Let him be right. Let the gods look awayas always. Let this boywho carries the entire actual, whirringworld in his calmunwashed hands, barely walking, bearus all therebuzzing, unstung.
    more
  • Lexi Nylander
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this quite a lot, although I didn't understand all of the sports/baseball references. My favorites were Flame Tempered, Sunflower, History, and De La Soul is Dead."Sleeping bags were a war zone where nobody died or got sent home""Later I waved to her from the podium after winning City, my smile as long as the shot she'd thought I had.""I found your first record yesterday-it looked like the past & sounded like the future-that combo platter I loved best of all."
    more
Write a review