Sunken Garden Poetry Festival – Kevin Young

Hill-Stead Museum

Jun. 6, 2014, 06:00 am

35 Mountain Road

Hill-Stead Museum is thrilled to welcome poet and National Book Award finalist Kevin Young to opening night of the 2014 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival on June 11. The evening will begin with a reading by Willimantic-based poet V. Penelope Pelizzon, and music by The Shinolas. A Prelude discussion about Young’s poetry will be led by poet and publisher Rennie McQuilkin. Festival schedule is below.

The Sunken Garden Poetry Festival is presented with generous support from Connecticut Humanities. Additional support comes from Beekley Center for Breast Health & Wellness at Bristol Hospital, Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Duncaster Retirement Community, The Ellen Jeanne Goldfarb Memorial Charitable Trust, Ensworth Charitable Foundation, The Richard P. Garmany Fund at Harford Foundation for Public Giving, Greater Hartford Arts Council, The George A. and Grace L. Long Foundation, SKY Investment Group, Travelers, and United Bank Foundation.

Born in 1970, Kevin Young is widely regarded as one of the leading poets of his generation, one who finds meaning and inspiration in African American music, particularly the blues, and in the bittersweet history of Black America. Lucille Clifton said of Young, “[His] gift of storytelling and understanding of the music inherent in the oral tradition of language re-creates for us an inner history which is compelling and authentic and American.” His many books of poetry include Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels (Knopf, 2011); Dear Darkness (Knopf, 2008); For the Confederate Dead (2007); and Book of Hours (2014). Black Maria: Poems Produced and Directed by Kevin Young is a “film noir in verse,” a playful homage to the language and imagery of Hollywood detective films.

Young was a 1993 National Poetry Series winner for Most Way Home, which also received the John C. Zacharis First Book Award of Ploughshares magazine. Other collections include To Repel Ghosts: Five Sides in B Minor (2001), a poetic tribute to painter and graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and a finalist for the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets; and Jelly Roll: A Blues (2003), a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award.

Young is also the author of a non-fiction book, The Grey Album (Graywolf, 2012), winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. In 2013, Young won the PEN Open Book Award for The Grey Album.

Young is the editor of The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965-2010 (BOA Editions, 2012); The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food and Drink (Bloomsbury, 2012); Best American Poetry 2011; and The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing, one hundred and fifty devastatingly beautiful contemporary elegies that embrace the pain, heartbreak, and healing stages of mourning (2010).

Young’s poetry and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times Book Review, Paris Review, Kenyon Review, and Callaloo. His awards include a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. He is currently Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English, and curator of Literary Collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University.

About Book of Hours (2014)
“If you read no other book of poetry this year, this should be the one.”
—Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A beautiful book of both grief and birth from the award-winning poet whose work thrills his audience with its immediate emotional impact and musical riffs. A decade after the sudden and tragic loss of the poet’s father, we witness the unfolding of his grief. “In the night I brush / my teeth with a razor,” he tells us, in one of the collection’s piercing two-line poems. Young captures the strange silence of bereavement: “Not the storm/ but the calm/ that slays me.” But the poet acknowledges, even celebrates, life’s passages, his loss transformed and tempered in a sequence describing the birth of his son: in “Crowning,” he delivers what is surely one of the most powerful birth poems written by a man, describing “her face/ full of fire, then groaning your face/ out like a flower, blood-bloom,/ crocused into air.” Ending this book of birth and grief, the gorgeous title sequence brings acceptance, asking “What good//are wishes if they aren’t/ used up?” while understanding “How to listen/ to what’s gone.”

About V. Penelope Pelizzon

V. Penelope Pelizzon is the author of two books of poetry: Whose Flesh Is Flame, Whose Bone Is Time (2014) and Nostos (2000), which won the Hollis Summers Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. She is also the co-author of Tabloid, Inc.: Crimes, Newspapers, Narratives (2010), a study of the relationship among photography, film, and sensation journalism in the early twentieth century.

Pelizzon’s poems and essays have appeared in journals including Poetry, FIELD, The Hudson Review, The Kenyon Review, and The Nation. Her writing has received awards including an Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and a “Discovery”/ The Nation Award. As a translator, Pelizzon’s work has appeared in Poetry, The Seneca Review, and the FSG Book of Twentieth Century Italian Poetry.

About The Shinolas

The Shinolas are a Connecticut super group. Jim Chapdelaine (guitar), Lorne Entress (drums), Paul Kochanski (bass) and Ed Iarusso (pedal steel) bring an amazing wealth of experience to their roots/Americana band, having recorded or performed with Les Paul, Phoebe Snow, Lori McKenna, Susan Tedeschi, Ronnie Earl, Big Al Anderson, Catie Curtis, Junior Wells, Ollabelle and numerous others. They are also name droppers but they have to make a living.

Over a get-to-know-each-other cup of coffee in 2008, Jim and Lorne came up with the idea of a local off-night residency in the Hartford area as a chance for them to tap into their mutual love for American roots music. The band gelled quickly, winning Best Country Band of 2009 in the Hartford Advocate, although pure country is just a slice of what they do. “The Shinolas draw their material from the Great American Songbook, and eclectic canon of rock and roll, blues, folk, and vintage country music that spans decades. It’s not uncommon to hear the band jamming to songs by Merle Haggard, Ryan Adams, Johnny Cash and Neil Young.” (Hartford Courant)

Schedule: Gates open at 4:30 pm; opening poet begins at 6:00 pm; music begins at 6:30; headlining poet begins at 7:25 pm.
Preludes – pre-performance talk on Kevin Young, led by Rennie McQuilkin – 5:00-5:30 pm
Admission: $15 per person, ages 18 and under free. Parking is free.
Seating: Bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating in and around the garden.
Food: Al fresco dining is allowed on the grounds. Participants are welcome to bring their own picnic suppers or purchase food/beverages on site.

About Hill-Stead Museum

Hill-Stead is noted for its 1901 33,000-square-foot house filled with art and antiques. Pioneering female architect Theodate Pope Riddle designed the grand house, set on 152 hilltop acres, to showcase the Impressionist masterpieces amassed by her father, Cleveland iron industrialist Alfred A. Pope. Hill-Stead is one of the nation’s few remaining representations of early-20th-century Country Place Estates. Collections include original furnishings, paintings by Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Édouard Manet, James M. Whistler and Mary Cassatt, as well as numerous works on paper and Japanese woodblock prints. Stately trees, seasonal gardens, meadows, over three miles of stone walls and blazed hiking trails accent the grounds. A centerpiece of the property is the circa 1920 sunken garden designed by Beatrix Farrand, today the site of the renowned Sunken Garden Poetry Festival. The 1901 period rooms are open for tours Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am – 4 pm. The last tour of the day begins at 3 pm. Grounds are open daily 7:30 am-5:30 pm. For tour and program information, browse or call 860.677.4787.


Hill-Stead Museum/35 Mountain Road / Farmington, CT 06032 / 860.677.4787

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