A Year in Reading: Kevin Young

December 6, 2017 | 2 books mentioned

coverAfter finishing research for my book Bunk, which took up most of my reading over the past several years, two of my favorite books I read for fun this year include the biography Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast, which brings the poet to life as well as her struggles, and Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?, the great collection of stories and “interiors” by filmmaker and writer Kathleen Collins. Collins was a pioneering black woman film director who died at the age of 46; these stories were uncovered by her daughter and published last year. The fact that Collins’s archives now reside at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, where I serve as director, reminds me how powerful it is to see work in its original, manuscript form. Archives are also the raw stuff of a biography like Bishop’s, for which Megan Marshall did groundbreaking research. Both these books make us rethink these women writers and restore them to the center of our cultural conversation.

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’s most recent book is the anthology African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song. He is poetry editor of the New Yorker and Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library; in January 2021, he will become Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. A chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is the author of many books, including Brown, Bunk, Blue Laws, and Jelly Roll. Among other anthologies he has previously edited are Blues Poems, Jazz Poems, The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief & Healing, and John Berryman: Selected Poems.

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