The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness
- Graywolf Press, 2012
Taking its title from Danger Mouse's pioneering mashup of Jay-Z's The Black Album and the Beatles' The White Album, The Grey Album combines essay, cultural criticism, and lyrical chorus to illustrate the African American tradition of lying-storytelling, telling tales, fibbing, improvising, "jazzing." What emerges is a persuasive argument for the many ways that African American culture is American culture, and for the centrality of art—and artfulness—to our daily lives.
"Kevin Young is one of the most talented poets in the United States. With this new book, he should also become known as a major critic." — San Francisco Chronicle
Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels
- Alfred A. Knopf, 2011
- Winner, 2012 Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award
A chorus of voices tells the story of the Africans who mutinied on board the slave ship Amistad. Written over twenty years, this poetic epic-part libretto, part captivity epistle-makes the past present, and even its sorrows sing.
"Writing in blues rhythms, Young achieves a hypnotic effect with repetition, puns, shifts in syntax, ellipsis, and use of the vernacular. Ultimately, his retelling becomes an eloquent examination of slavery as it’s felt in the human soul. Highly recommended." — Library Journal (starred review)
- Alfred A. Knopf, 2008
"Per page, per ounce, per dollar—whatever your preferred unit of measurement, Kevin Young must surely be one of the best entertainment values in today's poetry world. His books seethe with energy and ambition." — San Francisco Chronicle
For the Confederate Dead
- Alfred A. Knopf, 2007
- Winner, Quill Award in Poetry 2007
- Winner, Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement 2008
"A lively and excellent collection. Even when they're sad, as they often are, Kevin Young's poems make you want to tap your feet. Young's language dances, and he has a wry humor that matches the sweet jazz beat of his voice. This is his fifth collection, but it has the daring and energy of a first book." — Los Angeles Times
- Alfred A. Knopf, 2005
Black Maria—rhymes with pariah—is a "film noir in verse," a playful homage to the language and imagery of Hollywood detective films. The title, "Black Maria," is vintage street slang for "police van" and "hearse," as well as the name of Thomas Edison's first film studio. The poems follow the adventures of two characters, the private eye A.K.A.Jones, and the femme fatale Delilah Redbone, through "a maze of aliases and ambushes, sex and suspicions, fast talk and hard luck...."
"Highly entertaining, often dazzling, and, as book reviewers like to say—but rarely about contemporary poetry—compulsively readable." — The New York Times Book Review
- Alfred A. Knopf, 2003
- Winner, Paterson Poetry Prize
- Finalist, National Book Award
- Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize
"Irresistible...Young's short, snappy poems...swing, shimmy, jive, and jump off the page...Young's language is gorgeous and supple and deceptively simple. He plays off sound and rhythm the way few poets do—like Dylan Thomas or like the great Seamus Heaney...The poems in Jelly Roll should be required reading." — Madison Capital Times
To Repel Ghosts
- Alfred A. Knopf, 2005 ("Remix" edition)
- New York Public Library "Books for the Teen Age," 2004
- Finalist, James Laughlin Prize for a second book
"A tour de force. This is not only compelling, innovative, contemporary poetry, it may be the best interpretive study yet of Basquiat's art." — Art in America
Most Way Home
- William Morrow, 1995
- Winner, National Poetry series 1993, selected by Lucille Clifton
- John C. Zacharis First Book Prize, from Ploughshares
"First books rarely sing with such controlled music. Young has a distinctive and unforgettable voice, virtuosic style, and mature command of his material. Any of these poems testifies to Young's genius. A marvelous book, a marvelous poet." — Booklist
- The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink, Bloomsbury, 2012
- The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton: 1965-2010, BOA Editions, 2012
- The Best American Poetry 2011, Scribner, 2011
- The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing, Bloomsbury, 2010
- Jazz Poems, Everyman Pocket Poets anthology, 2006.
- Selected Poems: John Berryman, Library of America's American Poets series, 2004.
- Blues Poems, Everyman's Pocket Poets Series. First anthology focused exclusively on the blues poem, 2003.
- Giant Steps: The New Generation of African-American Writers, Harper Perennial, 2000. Featured in USA Today, People, Chicago Tribune and other newspapers and national magazines. In 2000, People magazine wrote, "Among the poets to watch in this impressive anthology of new African-American works are Natasha Trethewey (who depicts herself as Ophelia in one poem and Lana Turner in another), Harryette Mullen ('what you can do/is what women do/I know you know/what I mean, don't you) and Young himself, who riffs on Charlie Chan, Langston Hughes and the late painter Jean-Michel Basquiat."
Kevin Young has done a number of broadsides and smaller, rare publications since he began publishing, starting with letterpress work at the Bow & Arrow Press, Cambridge. There he printed his first broadside, "Reward," which would become the first poem in his first book Most Way Home.
Since then broadsides and small editions have appeared from several different places. Most recently, Young's "Ode to Pork" appeared as a broadside from the Southern Foodways Alliance.