Award-winning poet Kevin Young will give a poetry reading on November 6, 2013 at 7PM in Alumni Hall, co-sponsored by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, the African American Studies Program, and the College of Charleston’s Friends of the Library. Young’s visit to the College of Charleston is in conjunction with the exhibition Renee Stout: Tales of the Conjure Woman (October 18-December 14). The traveling exhibition, originated by the Halsey Institute, explores the contours of the African American experience and the existence of an underground system of African-derived folk beliefs known as Hoodoo or conjuring. Through the use of mixed media, including painting, sculpture, installation, and photography, Stout gives a glimpse into this shadowy world, which has origins in herbal medicine, root work, and a belief in the spiritual attributes of plants and animals. Kevin Young was commissioned to write an essay and series of poems based on Stout’s work for the exhibition catalogue. Entitled Book of Hours: An Evening of Poetry & Conjure by Kevin Young, the reading will feature poems from the Stout catalogue along with an assortment of older and newer works.
Kevin Young is the author of eight books of poetry, including Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels, winner of an American Book Award, and Jelly Roll, a finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize. Young’s book The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness was named a New York Times Notable Book for 2012, and won the 2013 PEN Open Book Award.
He has an A.B. in English and American Literature from Harvard University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Brown University. He is currently Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing & English and Curator of Literary Collections & the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University in Atlanta.
About Young’s work, the poet Lucille Clifton has said, “This poet’s gift of storytelling and understanding of the music inherent in the oral tradition of language re-creates for us an inner history which is compelling and authentic and American.”