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Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall
200 University St, Seattle, Washington 98101
This is a lecture by Kevin Young.
"[Contemporary black writing] is a question of being able to write about history. I think that’s very important. Elegy is very important. And imagination. The question of imagining a new self, a new nation—I think that’s central.” –Kevin Young
Kevin Young is an accomplished poet, the Poetry Editor for The New Yorker magazine, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and, coming in November 2017, the author of the non-fiction work, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News. In this book, Young traces the history of the hoax as a peculiarly American phenomenon—the legacy of P. T. Barnum's «humbug» culminating with today’s currency of «fake news.» Bunk turns to the hoaxing of history and the ways that forgers, plagiarists, and frauds invent backstories and falsehoods to sell us lies about themselves and about the world in our own time, and argues that race is the most insidious American hoax of all.
Kevin Young was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. While a student at Harvard University, he studied under poets Seamus Heaney and Lucie Brock-Broido and became a member of the Dark Room Collective, a community of African American writers. He was awarded a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University and later earned an MFA from Brown University. For nearly a decade, Young was the Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English and curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University, before becoming the Poetry Editor for The New Yorker. He is the author of many poetry collections, including Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015 (2016) and Book of Hours (2014). Three of Young’s books form what he calls “an American trilogy”: To Repel Ghosts (2001), which explores the paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat; Jelly Roll (2003), a collection of blues poems; and Black Maria (2005), a film noir.
Young's previous nonfiction work, The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness, won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the PEN Open Book Award. It was also a New York Times Notable Book for 2012 and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.