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TThe he Peopleâ€™s Peopleeâ€™s Poet Poeet Poet, P oet,, tteacher eacher an nd artis and artistt Gar ry Y oung o Gary Young embr acess his rrole ole embraces fir i st poe as the first poett laureate of Santa laureate Cruzz Count ty County 0GAB3>63<93AA:3@ 0GAB3>63< 93AA:3@
AST YE AST YEAR, EAR, w when hen m myy ffriend riend Gary Young G ary r Y oung rreceived eceived tthe he Poetry Society off A Americaâ€™s P oetry S ociety o mericaâ€™s Shelley Memorial Award, S helley M emorial A ward, ggiven iven poet, aannually nnually tto o a â€œâ€œmidcareerâ€? midcareerâ€? p poe t, I ccouldnâ€™t ouldnâ€™t help wondering why PSA had named h elp w ondering w hy tthe he P SA h ad n amed prize poet English ssuch uch a p rize aafter fter a poe et ((the the E nglish Romantic Percy Bysshe Shelley) who R omantic P ercy B ysshe S helley) w ho had died 29. Shelley was h ad d ied aatt aage ge 2 9. S helley w as a rreckless eckless not only his passionate ggenius, enius, ffamous amous n ot o nly ffor or h is p assionate but his politics vverse erse b ut ffor or h is rrevolutionary evolutionary po litics aand nd who drowned sscandalous candalous cconduct, onduct, w ho d rowned iin na boating off off It Italy. bo ating aaccident ccident o ff tthe he ccoast oast o taly. Gary, Gary ry, at at 58 58 a devoted devoted family family man, man, highly ggenerous enerous tteacher, eacher, h ighly sskilled killed aartisan rtisan printer, master off m many aand nd lletterpress etterpress p rinter, m aster o any domestic, mee aarts rts ffine ine aand nd d omestic, sseemed eemed tto om one off tthe Shelleyan poets know. o ne o he lleast east S helleyan poe ts I k now. Then his 20s Th hen I rremembered emembered tthat hat iin nh is llate ate 2 0s hee ccould have way off tthe h ould eeasily asily h ave ggone one tthe he w ay o he byy tthe sstar-crossed tar-crossed yyouth outh ssnatched natched b he ggods o ods off h his iin n tthe he ffirst irst ssurge urge o is ccreative reative ccareer: areer: hee w was diagnosed with malignant h as d iagnosed w ith a m alignant melanoma months m elanoma aand nd ggiven iven jjust ust a ffew ew m onths was hoping tto o llive. ive. â€œâ€œII w as jjust ust h oping tto o llive ive llong ong myy ffirst book published, eenough nough tto o ssee ee m irst boo kp ublished,â€? hee ttold mee tthe other day. h old m he o ther d ay. After After elaborate elaborate surgery surgery and and a long long Young put himself rrecovery, ecoveryy, Y oung ssomehow omehow p ut h imself back has proceeded b ack ttogether ogether aand nd h as p roceeded tto o produce bodyy o off w work p roduce aan n aastonishing stonishing bod ork progress: poetry books, tthat hat iiss sstill till iin np rogress: poe try boo ks, artist books, broadsides, anthologies, artist books, broadsides, anthologies,
G=C<57/< D3@A3 Gar G=C<57/<D3@A3 Gary ry Y Young ooung hass de developed veloped a distinctiv distinctivee st style t yyle off ppr prose o ppoem. ose oem. â€˜You subtleâ€™â€™ to â€˜Y Yoou have h e to hav to be be much more more subtle to write writte a good good one, onee, he says. says.
visual art, visual art, a publishing publishing imprint imprint and and a cconstantly onstantly expanding expanding brood brood of of students students aand nd former former students students he he has has initiated initiated into into tthe he dangerous dangerous pleasures pleasures of of education. education. Now, Now, after after the the Shelley Shelley prize prize and and before before tthat hat the the William William Carlos Carlos Williams Williams Award Award ffor or his his trilogy trilogy No No Other Other Life, Liffe, after after the the NEA NEA and and NEH NEH fellowships, fellowships, the the Peregrine Peregrine Smith S mith Poetry Poetry Prize, Prize, the the James James D. D. Phelan Phelan Award A ward and and his his various various other other honors, honors, Gary Gary Young Y oung was was named named this this past past January Jaanuary poet poet llaureate aureate of of Santa Santa Cruz Cruz County, County, the the first f irst llocal ocal bard bard to to be so so honored. honored. I asked asked him him how how this this compares compares with with his h is other other laurels. laurels. â€œWhen â€œWhen I measure measure it it aagainst gainst my my other other awards awards or or honors, honors, itâ€™s itâ€™s not n ot as as hefty hefty a prize, prize, and and yet yet itâ€™s itâ€™s starting starting tto o feel feel more more important, important, even even to to me, me, as as I see see what what it it means means to to other other people, people,â€? he he ssaid. aid. â€œMy â€œMy father, father, for for instanceâ€”he instanceâ€”he couldnâ€™t couldnâ€™t ccare are less less about about any any prize prize Iâ€™ve Iâ€™ve won. won. This? This? Itâ€™s It tâ€™s a big big deal deal to to him. him. And And this this has has been beeen happening happeening a lot. lot.â€?
Sunday S unday P Poems oems Teaching T eaching as as he he does doe o s at at both both UCSC UCSC Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory, aand nd G eorgiana B ruce Ki irby P reparatoryy, not hee needed iitâ€™s tâ€™s n ot aass iiff h needed another another job, job, but Young now b ut Y oung iiss n ow ggamely amely engaged engaged in in a on Shelleyâ€™s off poe poets vvariation ariation o nS helleyâ€™s iidea dea o ts as as off tthe tthe he â€œâ€œunacknowledged unacknowledged llegislators egislators o he worldâ€?â€”or w orldâ€?â€”or iin n tthis his ccase ase aatt lleast east a lobbyist lobbyist poetry public ffor or poe try iin n tthe he p ublic ssphere. phere. Ass a poetry A poetry official offf icial with with the the countyâ€™s countyâ€™s but without much off a iimprimatur mprimatur b ut w ithout m uch o budget orr sstaff his disposal, b udget o taff aatt h is d isposal, he he has has plans, over next aambitious mbitious p lans, o ver tthe he n ext two two years, years, put poetry posters on tto op ut poe try po sters o n the the buses, buses, organize noontime public o rganize n oontime rreadings eadings aatt tthe he p ublic do llibraries, ibraries, llecture ecture iin n sschools chools aand nd d o what what hee ccan make poetry h an tto om ake poe etry even even more more visible visible aand nd aaccessible ccessible tthan han iitt iiss already already in in this this with poets ccity ity aand nd ccounty ounty tteeming eeming w ith poe ts and and publications. rreadings eadings aand nd p ublications. I asked asked him him how how he he accounts accounts for for the the poetry off rrecent aall-around ll-around poe try eexplosion xplosion o ecent
decades. â€œI decades. â€œI tthink hink tthe he aacademy cademy iiss tthe he m main ain eengine ngine o hat,â€? he he ssaid. aid. â€œâ€œThere Th here aare re 3350 50 off tthat, M FA p rograms iin n tthe he ccountry ountry cchurning hurning MFA programs o ut M FAs b he tthousands housands eevery very yyear. ear. out MFAs byy tthe T hey d onâ€™t, m ost o hem, be come They donâ€™t, most off tthem, become p rofessional poe ts, b ut tthey hey w rite aand nd professional poets, but write tthey hey tteach each aand nd tthey hey tteach each w orkshops, aand nd workshops, I tthink hink iitâ€™s tâ€™s jjust ust be come m ore aavailable. vailable. become more â€œWe donâ€™t donâ€™t think think twice twice about about Sunday Sunday â€œWe p ainters aand nd aamateur mateur p ainters; tthere here aare re painters painters; m illions o ople w ho p aintâ€”loo ok aatt millions off pe people who paintâ€”look tthe he aart-supply rrt-supply sstoresâ€”and toresâ€”and m any o hem, many off tthem, m ayb be eeven ven m ost o hem, aare re ffairly airly maybe most off tthem, aaccomplished. ccomplished.â€? In Youngâ€™s Youngâ€™s view, view, this this proliferation proliferation of of In â€œâ€œamateurâ€? amateurâ€? poe ts aand nd poe try iiss h ealthy ffor or poets poetry healthy ccultural ultural llife. ife. â€œâ€œMusic Music w as aalways lways tthat hat w ay was way u ntil tthe he iinvention nvention o ecorded m usic; until off rrecorded music; eeverybody verybody p layed, aand nd ssome ome pe ople w ere played, people were aamateurs mateurs b ut eextremely xtremely ttalented. alented. M ost but Most w ere aadequate, dequate, and and h appy tto o be aid. were happy be,,â€? h hee ssaid. 3 $
Published on Apr 15, 2010