- Who is Angelina? (1975)
- Sitting Pretty (1976)
- Seduction by Light (1988)
- Snakes (1970)
- Ask Me Now (1980)
- Drowning in the Sea of Love (1995)
- Mingus Mingus (1989) with Janet Coleman
- Things Ain’t What They Used to Be (1986)
- Kinds of Blue (1984)
- Bodies & Soul (1981)
- Something About the Blues (2008)
- Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons (2006)
- The Sound of Dreams Remembered (2001)
- Conjugal Visits (1996)
- Heaven (1992)
- The Blues Don’t Change (1982)
- Geography of the Near Past (1976)
- The Song Turning Back into Itself (1971)
- Dancing (1969)
by Tiawann Moore (SHS)
During Al Young’s career, he has done much more than write novels. He has written poetry, short stories, and has also done some editing. Through his work Young has the ability to bring dramatic focus and symbolic meaning to the details of everyday life (Black Literature Criticism 2032).
Al Young was born on May 31, 1939, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. He lived there for half of his childhood life, until his father was discharged from the Navy. Following his father’s discharge, the entire family moved to Detroit, Michigan (Heaven: Collected Poems 350 and Black Literature Criticism 2032). After graduating from high school, Young attended the University of Michigan where he majored in Spanish. Young left Michigan in 1961 and moved to San Francisco. There he pursued a music career and worked as a disc jockey, writing instructor, or any other work he could find to make ends meet between musical gigs (Black Literature Criticism 2032).
Young graduated with honors and obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1969 (Heaven: Collected Poems 350). That same year,Dancing, Young’s first volume of poetry was published. Young has now written an additional three books of poetry, five novels, and four books of prose (Black Literature Criticism 2033). His work has appeared in magazines and newspapers such as Rolling Stone, the New York Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, and Harpers (Sitting Pretty 255). Young’s writings have been translated into Spanish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Japanese, Polish, and Chinese (Kinds of Blue: Musical Memoirs 167). This enables people to enjoy them all over the world.
Al Young also has experience as a screenplay writer. He has written scripts for important figures and actors such as Dick Gregory, Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, and Richard Pryor (Mississippi Writers: Reflections of Childhood and Youth 785 ). As far as editing goes, Young is the co founder and editor of the Yarbird Reader. He is also the editor of the anthology African American Literature (Who is Angelina? 281).
Young has received awards for his achievements. His honors include the Joseph Henry Jackson Award, the Pushcart Prize, the American Book Award, and the Wallace Stegner Fellowship Award. He also received the National Endowment for the Arts, and Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships (Sitting Pretty 255). Young has been a visiting professor at many of the nation’s universities. These include the Universities of Washington, Rice, Bowling Green, and Michigan (urc.ukans.edu/News/Oread95/OreadOct6/2). He is currently writer-in residence at the University of Arkansas for the fall of 1997 semester. Al Young loves to travel, but when he is not traveling, he resides in Polo Alto, California (Who is Angelina? 281).
Al Young was named Poet Laureate of California and served from 2005 to 2008.
A Review of Kinds of Blue: Musical Memoirs
by Tiawann Moore (SHS)
Throughout the years, music has been a definite reminder of history. Songs are like small time capsules. Once played, all the history and happenings of the past re-enter the mind of the listener. Writer and poet Al Young knows this. He has been greatly influenced by music throughout his career. Young pays his respects to the greatest musicians of this era in his autobiographical book, Kinds of Blue: Musical Memoirs.
In this book, Young takes the reader on a tour of his life by simply recalling his situation during the time of a song’s success. Kinds of Blue takes the reader through an entire era of musical chart hits like James Brown’s “Cold Sweat” and Miles Davis’s “All Blues”. There is a song for every situation. Al Young proves this by bringing past songs and situations of his time together to form musical and literary masterpieces. Kinds of Blue puts the reader directly into the mind of Al Young. It enables him to see Young’s way of thought as he grows from a boy to a man.
In this book, Young says “Music is the sigh of the spirit longing to express itself beyond the range of bodily confinement (Kinds of Blue “Authors Note” 2).” What he is basically saying is that music comes from the soul. This means that music was then, is now, and will always be a part of us. Young also says “Life depends upon the rhythmic working of the whole mechanism of the body.” There is music both outside and within ourselves (Kinds of Blue “Author’s Note” 3). With this thought in mind, it is clear that a song can cause one to reminisce and say, “Man, this song takes me back”. Hats off to you, Mr. Al Young, for a job well done.
- Poet Al Young sings the praises of California
- Al Young’s website
- Poetry Foundation page on Al Young
- California Poet Laureate Al Young’s ‘Blues’. NPR Books Series (2008)
- Abbot, Dorothy, ed. Mississippi Writers: Reflections of Childhood and Youth. Volume 1: Fiction. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1985. 5 vols.
- Draper, James P. Black Literature Criticism. Vol 3. Michigan: Gale Research Inc., 1992. 3 vols.
- Young, Al. Kinds of Blue: Musical Memoirs. Berkeley: Creative Arts Book Company, 1984.
- Young, Al. Who Is Angelina? Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.
- Young, Al. Sitting Pretty. Berkeley: Creative Arts Book Company, 1976.
- Young, Al. Heaven: Collected Poems 1956-1990. Berkeley: Creative Arts Book Company, 1988.