Only a little over two weeks after his heart transplant surgery, Dean Young joined The Rumpus Poetry Book Club to chat about his collection Fall Higher. The wide-ranging conversation covered everything from Young's typewriter (a 1955 Remington Quiet-Riter: "Old as me but with a ribbon that’s easier to change."), poem titles and health, to the similarities between two of his favorite poets, Dr. Seuss and Gerard Manley Hopkins: "One fish two fish red fish blue fish glory be for dappled things."

The full transcript of the hour-long chat is available here, and even while exploring subjects where one might be surprised to find humor — the discussions of his recovery, "urgency and pressure" and self-deprecation in Young's poems — humor remains the major thread.

Dean: I think there’s lots that can be similar about jokes and poems, it was Apolloniaire who put surprise as central to poetry and we can be surprised by many things, none more so than the truth.


Dean: I’m trying to get at something in my zigzag way and I never really know what people are going to think is funny. Once after a reading someone asked me why my poems were funny and I said because life is brief and full of suffering and the whole audience burst out laughing.

Brian S: Yeah, I’d have laughed.

Originally Published: May 5th, 2011