Dean Young: Neo-Surrealist

Special Topics: Sources, Scenes & Influence

Here’s Dean Young reading some poems at Georgia Tech in 2007:


And here’s what Elli has to say about him:


  • Born in 1955 in Columbia, Pennsylvania
  • (In order from earliest to most recent) Published Works:
    • Design with X
    • Beloved Infidel
    • Strike Anywhere
    • First Course in Turbulence
    • Skid
    • Elegy on Toy Piano (finalist for the Pulitzer prize for poetry)
    • Embryoyo
    • Primitive Mentor
    • 7 Poets, 4 Days, 1 Book (Featured)
    • The Foggist
    • The Art of Recklessness
    • Fall Higher
  • Received his MFA in Creative Writing from Indiana University
  • Won the Academy Award in Literature
  • Has worked In the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the University of Wisconsin, and Loyola University Chicago as an associate professor of English. Currently, he is in Austin working as the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at the University of Texas.
  • Received Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University
  • Recently received a heart transplant
  • Recently remarried


  • Strongly influenced by Andre Breton and the New York School of Poets
  • Neo-surrealist poet
  • Recurring concepts/ideas:
    • Rebirth
    • Relationships (Love)
    • The idea of departure
  • Makes Sense/ Doesn’t Make Sense: Individual lines make perfect sense but they seem out of context from line to line. There are leaps of logic, sometimes punctuated by moments of total clarity.
  • Whitman? Dickinson? The Tradition? Like Whitman, makes observations about the human condition. I don’t see very many connections to Dickinson.

3 thoughts on “Dean Young: Neo-Surrealist

  1. Laura March 5, 2012 / 3:13 pm

    I think that Dean Young is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting poets in this group because of the huge influence he has had on so many of the younger poets. I personally love the poem that we read “Opal.” I love the leaps that it makes from one image to another. Someone once told me that all writing is is attempting to connect seemingly unconnected subjects. His poems seem to have the same enclosure that Emily Dickinson’s poems do. It feels as if they speak mostly to the poet itself, like a reflection of the poet’s own thoughts. I think that Dean Young had an incredible influence and so he is very important to know about for young emerging poets.

  2. Adriane March 5, 2012 / 4:03 pm

    Dean Young files away into the same category as U2 and The Killers for me— he’s definately the indie rock of poetry with broad jumps and fearlessness. My favorite poem written by him is “Crash Test Dummies of an Imperfect God” because it reminds me of the Bright Eyes song “Four Winds.” (Sorry about all these music comparisons.) Both point out the way society has turned, and both aren’t afraid to tackle religion. I don’t think my writing is much like Young’s because most of mine is narrative, but we both share the same interest in human psychology.

  3. Hannah March 7, 2012 / 10:03 pm

    Dean Young, to me is just, well, the most basic way I can think to describe him, cool. Each of his poems feel to me like some sort of song, like if they were to be sung, each stanza would be delivered as a manic punch in the face. His words do that, which I really admire, because it is something I aspire to do, to punch people. He is really a huge inspiration to so many people, me included; and I feel like it’s the slight jealousy I feel towards him that makes me think so highly of him.

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