Since 2005, Kevin Young has served as Curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library—a 75,000 volume collection of rare and modern poetry housed at Emory University. As curator, Young is responsible for growing the collection, running a reading series, and mounting exhibitions.
In fall 2008, Kevin Young was newly named Curator of Literary Collections, in addition to his Raymond Danowski Poetry Library duties. In this capacity, Young will continue to add to the outstanding, growing collections at Emory's Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, which already include the archives of Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, Lucille Clifton, and Alice Walker, all added in the past few years.
Young's current focus in collecting for the institution is on postwar poetry, particularly small yet significant groups from Untide Press to the Chicano Chapbook Series, to anti-Vietnam and Black Arts writing, including the "mimeo revolution" of the 1960s.
Shadows of the Sun: The Crosbys, the Black Sun Press & the Lost Generation
Curated by Kevin Young, this exhibition shines a light on the Black Sun Press, modernism, and the generation of writers, artists, jazz musicians, and exiles in Paris after the First World War. The Black Sun Press, founded by Caresse and Harry Crosby in Paris in the 1920s, is emblematic of the avant-garde nature and adventurous spirit of the Lost Generation in the Jazz Age. A small, accompanying exhibition called "Postcards from Paris" about expatriate literary and artistic figures is curated by Amy Hildreth, a doctoral candidate in English.
"The Art of Losing"
This exhibition complements Kevin Young's anthology of elegies. Open to the public at no charge. Full event details
"Democratic Vistas": Exploring the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library
In 2008, Young curated "Democratic Vistas": Exploring the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, which was the first major exhibition to highlight the range and depth of the RDPL. The show featured 200 items drawn from the collection, including a first edition of Whitman's Leaves of Grass in the original binding, thought to be the earliest copy on record; a signed, limited edition of Langston Hughes's Scottsboro Limited with corrections in his hand; Gertrude Stein's children's book, The World is Round, with pink pages and illustrations by Clement Hurd; as well as significant holdings featuring Ted Berrigan, Gwendolyn Brooks, the Hours and Black Sun Presses. The result an overview of English-language poetry from Whitman to the New York School.
Among other highlights to be discovered at the exhibition are:
- one of eleven known copies of William Carlos Williams' first book, Poems (1909), which was never reprinted
- a first edition of T. S. Eliot's Prufrock and Other Observations (1917), inscribed to his close friend Emily Hale
- a 19th century children's book once owned by W.H. Auden
- Anne Sexton's personal, heavily annotated copy of Sylvia Plath's Ariel (1965)
- a unique, hand-made book with drawings and poems by Andrei Codrescu from 1966
- one of 25 copies of Hart Crane's The Bridge (1930), with the first printed photographs by Walker Evans
- featured rarities from influential schools of poetry, including modernism and Imagism, the Harlem Renaissance, the New York School, and the Confessional Poets
- significant items from the author collections of Auden, Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Ted Berrigan, Gwendolyn Brooks, Lucille Clifton, Langston Hughes, Ezra Pound, Muriel Rukeyser, and William Carlos Williams
A lively and informative 160-page, illustrated catalog of the show is available for purchase through Emory University, featuring almost 300 items and over 150 full-color illustrations.
- Read "Raymond Danowski Has Your Chapbook" at poetryfoundation.org.
In fall 2008 Young oversaw "My Dreams, My Works:" Selections from the Library of Gwendolyn Brooks, curated by graduate student Laura Norman.
This show featured the works of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, portions of whose library Young acquired for the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library in 2006.
In fall 2008 Young co-curated "Don't You Remember?: Children's Books by Poets," still on view in the Woodruff Library, 2nd Floor, Emory University through February 15, 2009. Contact the Schatten Gallery, Emory University, for details.
Raymond Danowski Poetry Library Reading Series
The RDPL is a living library, constantly being added to by new acquisitions and by readers in the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library Reading series. Since fall 2005, Kevin Young has curated a reading series that has included the best poets in England and America, from Sonia Sanchez, Lucille Clifton, Simon Armitage, to Pulitzer winners Galway Kinnell, Rita Dove, and Emory's own Natasha Trethewey. Most every reading has been accompanied by a limited edition broadside. Upcoming events