Letter from Poetry Magazine

Kevin Young Responds

by Kevin Young

Who knows why poets do what they do? We’re strange creatures, even to ourselves. But I’ve used ampersands for some time—not always, but often. I suppose the reason in part has to do with speech and its everyday abbreviations and linkages—not to mention I think ampersands look good. Like Emily Dickinson’s dashes—which make an appearance in my poem, alongside Dickinson herself—ampersands are both written and sonic. With any luck, they may even make the word “and” mean something again.

Originally Published: December 1, 2009

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This prose originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2009


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 Kevin  Young


Kevin Young was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. He studied under Seamus Heaney and Lucie Brock-Broido at Harvard University and, while a student there, became a member of the Dark Room Collective, a community of African American writers founded by Thomas Sayers Ellis and Sharan Strange. He was awarded a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, and later earned an MFA from Brown University. Three of Kevin Young’s books form what . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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