by W. Kim Heron
Light feeds each breath we take, light circulates
and in its round-and-round produces you
and me and everything that jumps or waits.
or so muses the poet Al Young in a recent poem at his extensive Web site, alyoung.org. Between his Mississippi earliest years and the U-M studies that launched him as poet, Young came of age in Detroit. Those were the years that informed his novel Snakes, years that figure into many of his verses and essays. And every few years Young — whose laurels include Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships, a couple National Book Awards and a recent stint as the poet laureate of California — finds himself back in Detroit as he does Wednesday (December 9).
Young will read his poems to the accompaniment of bassist Marion Hayden, as will poet Melba Boyd. Bill Harris will read to the accompaniment of Ron English and Faruq Z. Bey.
The words and music get under way at 7:30 p.m. at the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center, 311 Grand River in Paradise Valley (formerly Harmonie Park), between Music Hall and the Detroit Opera House. Parking stubs from the Opera House parking lot can be validated at the event.
(The lines quoted, above, by the way, have an additional Detroit connection. They're from a memorial poem by Young to Andrea Lewis, another former Detroiter transplanted to the West Coast. Lewis passed away last month at age 52. Lewis attended Eastern Michigan University before her outstanding career as a progressive journalist and broadcaster with Pacifica Radio's KPFA. )