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Brown

Narrated by: Kevin Young
Length: 1 hr and 51 mins
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Summary

James Brown. John Brown's raid. Brown v. the Topeka Board of Ed. The prize-winning author of Blue Laws meditates on all things "brown" in this powerful new collection.

Divided into "Home Recordings" and "Field Recordings", Brown speaks to the way personal experience is shaped by culture, while culture is forever affected by the personal, recalling a black Kansas boyhood to comment on our times. 

From "History" - a song of Kansas high-school fixture Mr. W., who gave his students "the Sixties / minus Malcolm X, or Watts, / barely a march on Washington" - to "Money Road", a sobering pilgrimage to the site of Emmett Till's lynching, the poems engage place and the past and their intertwined power. 

These 32 taut poems and poetic sequences, including an oratorio based on Mississippi "barkeep, activist, waiter" Booker Wright that was performed at Carnegie Hall and the vibrant sonnet cycle "De La Soul Is Dead", about the days when hip-hop was growing up ("we were black then, not yet / African American"), remind us that blackness and brownness tell an ongoing story. 

A testament to Young's own - and our collective - experience, Brown offers beautiful, sustained harmonies from a poet whose wisdom deepens with time.

©2018 Kevin Young (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

“Necessary.... Young’s book releases a universal shout - political in the best, most visceral way, critical, angry, squinting hard at this culture - while remaining at the same time deeply and lovingly personal. Love soars over every section, especially the most painful ones.” (Luis Alberto Urrea, The New York Times Book Review)

“Ambitious.... [Young] effortlessly blends memories of his own experiences - his childhood in Kansas, his college years and his travels - with reflections on sports figures, musicians and others who have impacted American life.... Young’s writing is crisp and well paced, his rhythms and harmonies complex. His virtuosity is on display as he illustrates the intersections between place and the past, the individual and the collective consciousness.” (Elizabeth Lund, Washington Post)

“Vital and sophisticated...sinks hooks into you that cannot be easily removed.... Keeping up with him is like trying to keep up with Bob Dylan or Prince in their primes.” (Dwight Garner, The New York Times)

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  • J. G. Laws
  • 09-03-19

Absolutely wonderful!

I had the pleasure of meeting Kevin Young and he is a very humble and gracious poet. His work is so poignant and deep. As a Southerner I can relate to all of his poems and they evoke many feelings.