C. Dale Young’s fine poetry has been published in such well-respected journals, such as Ploughshares, The Paris Review, The Southern Review, and The Virginia Quarterly Review, among others. He teaches at the Warren Wilson low-residency MFA program in creative wwriting and is poetry editor for The New England Review. And somehow, in his spare time, he works full time as a doctor. Which is why he didn’t have time to participate in an interview–as if saving lives and stuff was more important than our interview. The nerve! No, seriously, we get it, we understand, and we’re just delighted to have his work in our journal and a review of his latest book, TORN.
We are also delighted to be able to point you to his two other books of poetry.
His first book was The Day Underneath the Day. (2001, Northern University Press)
“Gifted with a vivid and exact skill, Young’s writing resembles an intricate anatomy lesson. His powers of observation probe the small energies of the natural world. Again and again the ordinary details of life transform themselves under the delicate pressure of his words-the movement of birds’ wings, the color and texture of tropical flowers, the study of the ocean waves, the “scalpel of light” cutting through the beginning of the day. The language of Young’s poems evokes an ultimate sense of place through a gorgeous marriage of tone and diction that echoes James Merrill and Amy Clampitt. As he meticulously maps out human passions and emotions, he explores both the surfaces and depths of everything that he surveys. His confident and polished verse unfolds intricate layers of landscape, seeking the order that lies beneath the unruly patterns of our lives.”
Here is a sample poem from that collection:
A single seedling, camp follower of arson . . .
Follower of ashes; follower
of the bleached-out, burned-out
cascade of buildings, lotfuls
of whitened soil speckled with debris
let down by a gutted church
still aspiring to an ether-blue sky
centuries gone; follower
of scripts apotheosized into smoke,
notes lifted into air by flames
that all but threatened the entire lane
with the silence we call a bed
of dirt; follower of the match,
the instigator here and abroad,
the matutinal magnifying glass
focusing light into unwitting
summer grass, into cruciform twigs;
follower of the caveat
ignored because it was too small;
follower of the fourth oldest dream —
the landscape burning and burning.
in memory of Amy Clampitt
His second book was The Second Person (2007, Four Way Books) which was a finalist for the Lambda Book Award.
“In The Second Person, we encounter the searing presence of the Beloved—a “you” that seems to advance and retreat from the gaze of both the speaker and the reader. Young, a vivid renderer of landscape, has shifted his painterly eye from the exterior world to an interior one filled with the complexities of failure and doubt. In the collection, we continue to get the verbal precision and accuracy we already identify with Young’s poems, but we also get a more compelling poetry, one infused with the tradition of the love lyric and a relentless exploration of loss.”
Here’s a sample poem from that book:
The Architects of Time
and so, the lot had to be vacant
except for the lone tree.
The first, on arrival, would
throw his hands up, reaffirm
that with a gesture he could
return the leaves to the branches.
Another, tired from the journey,
would lie down
and, closing his eyes, hasten
the demise of the locusts.
It was always the same.
A week, a century, the empty lot.
The last architect, the great
philosopher, was late as usual—
when they talked about the end,
he would laugh and remind them
they were now at the mercy
of the scientists, without whom
the architects would cease to exist.
And finally, the gorgeous TORN, also from Four Way Books. The two poems in this issue of r.kv.r.y. are taken from that book and can be read here: Torn and here: Sepsis
You can also read more sample poems at the author’s website.