‘I know you’re the blues/ because loving you/ may kill me’: Kevin Young’s ‘Ode to Pork’

For those of you who might like a taster of what’s to come at this year’s dlr Poetry Now, below is a clip of the fastastic Kevin Young reading his poems at the 2008 Dodge Poetry Festival. Here he reads four, all from his latest book Dear Darkness; poems that, as the San Franscisco Chronicle has it, ‘seethe with energy and ambition.’ While the book turns around the death of the poet’s father it does so in a manner that is as celebratory as it sorrowful, amounting to a moving portrait of Young’s whole family and his upbringing in the Deep South. In particular, Dear Darkness is studded with a number of wonderful odes, not to nightingales or Grecian urns, but to Louisiana delicacies – Grits, Gumbo, Sweet Potato Pie to name but a few – that will have you literally scanning the yellow pages for a Smoke Pit. Here, along with ‘Aunties’, ‘Flash Flood Blues’ and ‘Ode to Boudin’, Young reads the devilish ‘Ode to Pork’:

‘Adam himself gave up
a rib to see yours
piled pink beside him.
Your heaven is the only one
worth wanting—
you keep me up all night
cursing your four-
letter name, the next
begging for you again.’

You can hear Kevin Young read with Vona Groarke and Catalan poet Joan Margarit at dlr Poetry Now 2010 on Saturday 27th March at 6.30pm.


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