Dean Young, professor of English, is the 2014 Texas Poet Laureate, one of four posts held by Texas artists annually. The appointees for 2013 and 2014 were selected by a legislative-appointed committee for the exceptional quality of their work and for their outstanding commitment to the arts in Texas.
Recognized nationally as one of the most energetic, influential poets writing today, Young holds the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas-Austin. He has published 12 books of poetry and one volume of prose on the aesthetics of poetry. He has also received numerous awards and honors for his poetry, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Levinson Prize, the Colorado Poetry Prize, a Wallace E. Stegner Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His poems are regularly selected for the Best American Poetry annual series.
Age of Discovery
By Dean Young
On the 182nd day of the 34th year
of my education,
I wake to a snow that seems falling faster
than snow, so blossom-heavy,
but I know that classic experiment
atop the Tower of Pisa, Galileo's proof
how, regardless of mass, all things drop
at the same rate. What falls falls,
I'd like to write, in continuous swoon
but that is only music just as
there is only music in the old claims
of soul leaving the body in a powdery
whoosh, an unwedging at the scapulas
scattering birds from belfry and roof,
a whir like radium half-lifting.
I've scoffed at the man who's spent his life
trying to photograph ghosts, the woman
who teaches how to breathe from the tips
of toes but surely there's a plethora
of forces bound and unbinding within us.
Each State Artist (including poet laureate, state musician, state two-dimensional artist and state three-dimensional artist) reflects the state's diversity and high-quality artistic offerings. Nominees must be native Texans or have resided in the state for at least five years. They must have attained the highest levels of excellence and success in their respective disciplines and earned a statewide, regional or national reputation for their high-caliber work.
"In honoring these individuals we bring attention to the important role the arts play in shaping Texas' cultural landscape," said Gary Gibbs, executive director for the Texas Commission on the Arts. "These Texas State Artists are the best of the best. Their work defines our character of place and reflects the distinctive qualities that make Texas unique."
Cover image by Nicole Hanusek via Flickr Creative Commons.