Kevin Young returns to launch pad of career

Nationally acclaimed poet Kevin Young gave a reading of his poetry April 24 at Washburn. Young credits Washburn professor Thomas Averill for inspiring his love of poetry.

Nationally acclaimed poet Kevin Young presented a reading of his poetry April 24 at Washburn University, the early stomping grounds of his poetic career.

It began for Young many years ago when he first attended a summer poetry workshop taught by writer-in-residence Thomas Averill.

“I don’t think he knew what he was in for when he handed out those poems,” said Averill.

This was not an exaggeration on the part of Young who has earned his metaphoric spurs in the world of poetry; Young is the author of eight titles, two of which were national book finalists.

In the thorough introduction to the reading given by Washburn professor and poet Eric McHenry, Young’s accomplishments and positions were acknowledged, with one of the most notable being his position as curator of the internationally famous 75,000 volume Raymund Didenkowski Poetry Library, which McHenry says is “a good place to read poetry.”

Young read from his newest book, “Book of Hours,” which was published by Knopf Publishers and has been featured both in the New York Times and on NPR’s “Fresh Air.”

Young’s book is divided into sections. The first part mainly focuses on the subjects of grief and mourning, which arose during the period in his life when he lost his beloved father. Other sections of the book are concerned with the birth and early life of his son, as well as family life in general.

The title of the book is also the title of the final poem in the book. “Book of Hours,” a long poem, which transcends the depths of the workingman’s blues.

“It was a pleasure being here,” said Young. “I want to thank McHenry and Averill for their organization of the event as well as their support throughout all the years.”

Overall, the reading was successful. McHenry says that it was fantastic and that one could hear the audience reacting to different lines and poems.

“He is such a pro reading with such diction… that it couldn’t not be a success,” said McHenry. “Kevin, you’ve done good. We’re proud of you. Welcome back.”