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Now in paperback, from the award-winning writer of Jelly Roll and Book of Hours, a rich and energetic gathering of highlights from the first twenty years of an unusual career, interspersed with “B sides” and “bonus tracks” from this prolific and widely acclaimed poet.
Blue Laws gathers poems written during the last two decades, drawing from all nine of Kevin Young’s prior to now published books of poetry and including various uncollected, regularly unpublished, poems. From his stunning lyric debut (Most Way Home, 1995) and the amazing “double album” life of Jean-Michel Basquiat (2001;”remixed” for Knopf in 2005), through his brokenhearted Jelly Roll: A Blues (2003) and his contemporary forays into adult grief and the joys of birth in Dear Darkness (2008) and Book of Hours (2014), this collection provides a grand tour of a poet whose personal poems and political poems are equally riveting. Along side wonderful outtakes and prior to now unseen blues, the profoundly felt poems here of circle of relatives, Southern food, and loss are of a piece with the depth of personal sensibility and humanity found in his Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels or bold sequences such as “The Ballad of Jim Crow” and a new “Homage to Phillis Wheatley.”