Poet Dean Young was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania, and received his MFA from Indiana University. Recognized as one of the most energetic, influential poets writing today, his numerous collections of poetry include Strike Anywhere (1995), winner of the Colorado Prize for Poetry; Skid (2002), finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; Elegy on Toy Piano (2005), finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Primitive Mentor (2008), shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize; Bender: New and Selected Poems (2012); Shock by Shock (2015); and Solar Perplexus (2019). He has also written a book on poetics, The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction (2010).

Influenced by the New York School poets, and Surrealists such as Andre Breton, Young’s poetry is full of wild leaps of illogic, extravagant imagery, and mercurial shifts in tone. Using surrealist techniques like collage, Young’s poems often blur the boundaries between reality and imagination, creating a poetry that is enormously, almost disruptively, inclusive. In an interview with the journal Jubilat, Young admitted of his poetry: “I want to put everything in.” And speaking to the centrality of misunderstanding in his poetry: “I think to tie meaning too closely to understanding misses the point.”

Upon presenting him with the Academy Award in Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Letters noted, “Dean Young’s poems are as entertaining as a three-ring circus and as imaginative as a canvas by Hieronymus Bosch.” Young has also been awarded a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. His poems have been featured in Best American Poetry numerous times.

Young has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the low-residency MFA program at Warren Wilson College, and the University of Texas-Austin where he holds the William Livingston Chair of Poetry.



  • Design with X, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 1988.
  • Beloved Infidel, University Press of New England (Hanover, NH), 1992.
  • Strike Anywhere, Center for Literary Publications, Press of Colorado (Niwot, CO), 1995.
  • First Course in Turbulence, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1999.
  • Skid, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 2002.
  • Elegy on Toy Piano, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 2005.
  • Embryoyo, McSweeney’s, 2007.
  • Primitive Mentor, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 2008.
  • Fall Higher, Copper Canyon (Port Townsend, WA), 2011.
  • Bender: New and Selected Poems, Copper Canyon, 2012.
  • Shock by Shock, Copper Canyon, 2015.
  • Solar Perplexus, Copper Canyon, 2019.


  • The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction (essays), Graywolf Press (St. Paul, MN), 2010.

Has also produced audio recordings of his poetry for the Library of Congress. Contributor of poetry to numerous periodicals and anthologies, including Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review, Pushcart Prize XXI: Best of the Small Presses, Threepenny Review, and many others.


Further Readings


  • Antioch Review, summer, 1993, James Harms, review of Beloved Infidel, p. 57.
  • Booklist, February 15, 2002, Ray Olson, review of Skid, p. 986.
  • Boston Book Review, June, 199, review of First Course in Turbulence, p. 32.
  • Ohio Review, spring, 1993, Tony Hoagland, review of Beloved Infidel, p. 468.
  • Ploughshares, fall, 1993, Diann Blakely Shoaf, review of Beloved Infidel, pp. 250-51.
  • Publishers Weekly, June 1, 1992, review of Beloved Infidel, p. 57; February 25, 2002, review of Skid, p. 58.
  • Threepenny Review, summer, 1990, review of Design with X, p. 21.
  • Virginia Quarterly Review, summer, 1996, review of Strike Anywhere, p. 100.


  • Loyola University Web site, http://www.luc.edu/ (July 24, 2002), excerpt from First Course in Turbulence.
  • University of Iowa Web site, http://www.uiowa.edu/ (July 24, 2002).
  • Colorado State University Web site, http://www.colostate.edu/ (July 24, 2002), "Center for Literary Publishing."