Elegy on Toy Piano / Edition 1

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In Elegy on Toy Piano, Dean Young's sixth book of poems, elegiac necessity finds itself next to goofy celebration. Daffy Duck enters the Valley of the Eternals. Faulkner and bell-bottoms cling to beauty's evanescence.

Even in single poems, Young's tone and style vary. No one feeling or idea takes precedence over another, and their simultaneity is frequently revealed; sadness may throw a squirrelly shadow, joy can find itself dressed in mourning black. As in the agitated "Whirlpool Suite": "Pain / and pleasure are two signals carried / over one phoneline."

In taking up subjects as slight as the examination of a signature or a true/false test, and as pressing as the death of friends, Young's poems embrace the duplicity of feeling, the malleability of perception, and the truth telling of wordplay.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Confidently balances moments of absurdity against high drama and raw admissions of emotion. . . . His particular mix of the silly and the deadly serious increases the poignancy of the poems. . . . This book of energetic, chronic juxtaposition pieces together a winning, tinkling set of send-offs for friends, and for feelings.”
Publishers Weekly

“Surrealism seldom seems as much like real life as in Young’s hilarious and cautionary poems."

“Dean Young’s work, I’ve concluded, will delight only two kinds of people: those who generally read poetry and those who generally don’t. The former will find a promising revitalization project and unalloyed pleasure. The latter will find, to their unalloyed pleasure, that perhaps poetry isn’t how they imagined it. . . . Young is the architect of an amusement park, but he’s also the mescaline-addled raconteur in the truth-teller’s booth at that amusement park. He’s both dreamscaper and landscaper, spinner of fantastic yarns and unremitting bullshit-detector. He’s initiating protests with water guns. He’s composing dirges on plastic accordions and elegies on toy pianos.”
Threepenny Review

Publishers Weekly
Staccato and frantic, created by long series of declarative end-stopped lines, Young's sixth collection confidently balances moments of absurdity against high drama and raw admissions of emotion: "Our camouflage works best/ galloping en masse in discotheques./ We are very gentle with our young." The book is dedicated to the late Kenneth Koch; when Young writes of a power drill telling a canoe, "You don't have a clue," he really means it. The title poem recalls something of Auden's elegy for Yeats, in sentiment if not in tone, and slyly contains self-doubt: "His work has enlarged the world/ but the world is about to stop including him./ He is the tower the world runs out of." When Young's poetry works, his particular mix of the silly and the deadly serious increases the poignancy of the poems, so that in the first poem a long series of unconnected images and references (Marilyn Monroe, a squirrel hanging on a transformer, a third-grader "loose in dishwares") culminates heartrendingly in this question: "Will we never see our dead friends again?" This book of energetic, chronic juxtaposition pieces together a winning, tinkling set of send-offs for friends, and for feelings. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822958727
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2005
  • Series: Pitt Poetry Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 90
  • Sales rank: 412,678
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Dean Young has published several books of poetry, including his 2005 collection, Elegy on Toy Piano, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. His collection Skid was a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Prize. Young has received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships as well as a Guggenheim Fellowship. He teaches at The Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa and in the Warren Wilson Low Residency Program.

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Table of Contents

Thrown as if fierce & wild 3
Evening primrose 4
Glory 5
Avalanche garden 6
Original monkey 7
Ghost gash 9
Facet 10
Multi-tasking 11
Lives of the Olympians 13
Halflives of Youngonium 14
Fire is speaking 16
Lives of the veterans 18
Little black squirrel 20
Hammock half in sun 21
May deaths 22
Ghost gust 23
With hidden noise 27
Sign here 29
Yawn 32
Skipping the reception 33
Lives of the robots 34
Ghost grease 36
Alarm clock 38
Flamenco 39
Learn by doing 40
True/false 42
Bolinas, California 45
Peach farm 46
Venus 47
Flamenco 49
What's wrong with this picture 50
Interview 52
Lives of the mortals 54
Whoz side u on, anyway? 59
Shield of moon dust 61
Tongue doctor 63
Rabbit, I love you 65
Whirlpool suite 67
Is this mic on? 69
Lemon garlic duck 71
I said yes I meant no 74
Bathed in dust and ash 76
I saw my life go by 77
Gray matter 79
Reentry 80
Bivouacked & garrisoned capitol 82
Elegy on toy piano 84
Last words 86
Rushing through the night 88
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