I lived in Livingston, Montana for two summers: 2006 and 2007. I loved it there. I worked a restaurant job, and had most of every day to myself to explore. I bought a book that described the 60 best hikes in the area, and would just flip to one and drive to the trailhead. I saw moose and bears and eagles almost daily. Sometimes I'd dip my feet in the always-cold Yellowstone River.
So, to read Wink's story, which takes place in Livingston and mentions the bar attached to the restaurant I worked at, made me a bit homesick. The story itself feels a little "MFA" to me, but it's worth the read. I've never been able to talk about poetry within a poem, or the exercise of writing within a story. Wink pulls it off better than most.
When I was applying to MFA programs back in 2003, I only applied to Indiana University because Kevin Young was there. I didn't want to go to/stay in Indiana. I had lived in the Midwest my entire life, and I was ready to live somewhere else. But, Kevin Young was there. So, I went/stayed. It was the best decision I could have made.
Kevin Young is the kind of smart that is beyond. He's book smart, of course--wildly so--but he's also people smart. He notices and makes connections that seem obvious, but aren't. Everything he does is rooted in history. Young's poems are all full of layers. Each is stark and beautiful, but has so much more going on than the surface. This is especially true in his new collection of poems, Brown.
I liked what Young said when he was on the Daily Show talking about how he chose the title, Brown. "I was thinking, how can I go from Prince to the personal...I'm obsessed with the music of history and the history of music, and both those things came together in this book and in that word." The message that he wants to convey with this book is that history is both personal and public. The thing he does so well with this collection is unpack his personal in a public way. It's so easy to relate to these poems. It's so easy to get nostalgic. No matter who you are, brown is a part of you.