Kevin Young

Kevin Young was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1970.  He moved several times as a kid, then lived in Topeka, Kansas, until he went to college.  He has an B.A. in English and American Literature from Harvard University, where he was part of the Dark Room Collective, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University.  He began writing poetry in his teens when he took a summer creative writing class for gifted students taught by Thomas Fox Averill at Washburn University.

Young’s first collection, Most Way Home, was selected by Lucille Clifton for the National Poetry Series, and later won Ploughshares’s John C. Zacharis First Book Award.  He is a former Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University, a recent Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, and NEA Literature Fellow in Poetry.

Young has taught at the University of Georgia and Indiana University, where he was the Ruth Lilly Professor of Poetry.  He was then Atticus Haygood Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Emory University, and Curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library.  In the Fall of 2016 he became director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York City Public Library.


Below are two broadsides which were printed in the 1990s.  Click on images to enlarge/read…

Kevin Young
Reward (1991)
Lithograph and letter press
18” x 25 ¾”


Kevin Young
Shimmy (1998)
Letter press
17 ¼” x 11 ¼”

Poem, obscured, is:


RUN AWAY from this sub-
scriber for the second time
an outlandish dark fellow

with his country marks
on his temples and bearing
the remarkable brand of my
name on his left breast, last

seen wearing an old ragged
negro cloth shirt and breeches
made of fearnought; also DIDO,
a likely young wench of a yellow

cast, born in cherrytime in this
parish, wearing a mixed coloured
coat with a bundle of clothes,
mostly blue, under her one good

arm. Both speak tolerable plain
English and may insist on being
called Cuffee and Khasa respect-
ively. Whoever shall deliver

the said goods to the gaoler
in Baton Rouge, or to the Sugar
House in the parish, shall receive
all reasonable charges plus

a genteel reward besides what
the law allows. In the mean
time all persons are strictly
forbid harbouring them, on pain

of being prosecuted to the utmost
rigour of the law. Ten guineas
will be paid to anyone who can
give intelligence of their being

harboured, employed, or enter-
tained by a white person upon
his sentence; five on conviction
of a black. All Masters of vessels

are warned against carrying them
out of state, as they may claim
to be free. If any of the above
Negroes return of their own

accord, they may still be for-
given by

                        ELIZABETH YOUNG.