Kevin Young



  • September 2021
  • Knopf
  • Hardcover, Kindle, eBook, Audio
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Shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize
A Library Journal top ten poetry title of 2021
A Financial Times best poetry book of 2021
One of Washington Post critic Ron Charles's
twelve favorite poetry collections of 2021
A New York Times "Editor's Choice" selection
One of TIME's "34 most anticipated books to read this fall"
One of Atlanta Journal-Constitution's “10 must-read Southern books this fall”
One of Thrillist's “24 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Fall”

A book of loss, looking back, and what binds us to life, by a towering poetic talent, called "one of the poetry stars of his generation" (Los Angeles Times)

"We sleep long, / if not sound," Kevin Young writes early on in this exquisite gathering of poems, "Till the end/ we sing / into the wind." In scenes and settings that circle family and the generations in the American South—one poem, "Kith," exploring that strange bedfellow of "kin"—the speaker and his young son wander among the stones of their ancestors. "Like heat he seeks them, / my son, thirsting / to learn those / he don't know / are his dead."

Whether it's the fireflies of a Louisiana summer caught in a mason jar (doomed by their collection), or his grandmother, Mama Annie, who latches the screen door when someone steps out for just a moment, all that makes up our flickering precarious joy, all that we want to protect, is lifted into the light in this moving book. Stones becomes an ode to Young's home places and his dear departed, and to what of them—of us—poetry can save.

Reviews & Praise 

It’s an exceptionally beautiful collection, full of retrospection, longing and grief ambered into verse.

—Ron Charles, Washington Post "Book Club"

In Stones, Young mines his familial history and calls out moments of sorrow and joy, from musings on his grandmother Mama Annie to poems that consider the generations of people that have lived in the American South. The result is a blistering look at love, loss and everything in between.


[Young is] excellent in a very particular way. American poetry is at present a jumble of styles, but Young writes in an almost harmonic register. His work can be quirky and brainy, but it’s never alienating. . . . He’s attentive to sound and wordplay, yet he largely sticks to the approachable free verse model that has dominated American writing for 60 years. His writing is warm, often elegiac and confidently temperate. There’s a lot to like.

—David Orr, New York Times Book Review

Joy and sorrow are inseparable in this volume of reminiscence rooted in the American South. . . . [The] poet crafts exquisite portraits of the people he loves and the places he calls home.

Arianna Rebolini, Oprah Quarterly

Stones combines brevity and sharp line breaks. . . . A book of language at its limits.

—Aingeal Clare, The Guardian

Young has a way of transforming these things, even grief, into something beautiful. . . . In Stones, his newest collection of poetry, Young mines his own roots. The 44 poems within serve as an homage to his loved ones and their home places. . . . We are lucky he allows us to travel with him into his past and glance over his shoulder.

—Jeremy Redmon, Atlanta Journal-Constitution