Kevin Young is the director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and poetry editor of The New Yorker, where he hosts the poetry podcast. He was previously the director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
He is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, most recently Brown (Knopf, 2018), as featured on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah; Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015 (Knopf, 2016), longlisted for the National Book Award; and Book of Hours (Knopf, 2014), a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets. His collection Jelly Roll: a blues (Knopf, 2003) was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His next book of poetry, described as "A book of loss, looking back, and what binds us to life, by a towering poetic talent," will be Stones (Knopf, Sept. 21, 2021).
Young’s second nonfiction book, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News (Graywolf Press, 2017), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Nonfiction, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was named a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice” selection, and a “Best Book of 2017″ by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, Dallas Morning News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Smithsonian, Vogue, the Atlantic, Nylon, BuzzFeed, and Electric Literature. Young’s previous nonfiction book, The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness (Graywolf Press, 2012), won the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and the PEN Open Book Award; it was also a New York Times Notable Book for 2012 and a finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism.
Young is the editor of nine other collections, including The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965- 2010 (BOA Editions, 2012) and The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink (Bloomsbury, 2012). He is the editor of the anthology African American Poetry 1770–2020: 250 Years of Struggle & Song (Library of America October 2020). He is series editor and wrote the introduction and forward for Unsung: Unheralded Narratives of American Slavery & Abolition.
He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2020. In March 2021 he was voted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in May he was elected as a Fellow of the Society of American Historians.
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Photo Melanie Dunea