Thoughtful Thursday: Celebrating Kevin Young

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Thoughtful Thursday: Celebrating Kevin Young

It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Today we are celebrating one of our favorite poets, Kevin Young. In case you hadn’t heard, Kevin Young has just been named as the new director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. He will be leaving his position as the head of the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library, a position he has held for four years. He also serves as poetry editor at The New Yorker magazine, and will continue in that role in his new position.

Congrats to Kevin, and we can’t wait to see what he does at the National Museum of African American History and Culture! In the meantime, here are some of our favorite poems from Kevin. Share them with your children and enjoy.

 

Eddie Priest’s Barbershop & Notary

Closed Mondays

is music    is men
off early from work    is waiting
for the chance at the chair
while the eagle claws holes
in your pockets    keeping
time    by the turning
of rusty fans    steel flowers with
cold breezes    is having nothing
better to do    than guess at the years
of hair    matted beneath the soiled caps
of drunks    the pain of running
a fisted comb through stubborn
knots    is the dark dirty low
down blues    the tender heads
of sons fresh from cornrows    all
wonder at losing    half their height
is a mother gathering hair    for good
luck    for a soft wig    is the round
difficulty of ears    the peach
faced boys asking Eddie
to cut in parts and arrows
wanting to have their names read
for just a few days    and among thin
jazz    is the quick brush of a done
head    the black flood around
your feet    grandfathers
stopping their games of ivory
dominoes    just before they reach the bone
yard    is winking widowers announcing
cut it clean off    I’m through courting
and hair only gets in the way    is the final
spin of the chair    a reflection of
a reflection    that sting of wintergreen
tonic    on the neck of a sleeping snow
haired man    when you realize it is
your turn    you are next

Kevin Young

Reward

RUN AWAY from this sub-
scriber for the second time
are TWO NEGROES, viz. SMART,
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.

Kevin Young

Hive

The honey bees’ exile
is almost complete.
You can carry

them from hive
to hive, the child thought
& that is what

he tried, walking
with them thronging
between his pressed palms.

Let him be right.
Let the gods look away
as always. Let this boy

who carries the entire
actual, whirring
world in his calm

unwashed hands,
barely walking, bear
us all there

buzzing, unstung.

 

Kevin Young

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