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Torn

Four Way Books, 2011

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A New Collection of Poetry from an Award Winning Poet

Torn

In his third collection of poetry, Torn, C. Dale Young continues his earnest investigations into the human, depicted as both spiritual being and a process, as “the soul and its attendant concerns” and as a device that “requires charge, small / electrical impulses / racing through our bodies.” What Young tells and shows us, what his poems let us hear, does not aim to reassure or soothe. These are poems written from “white and yellow scraps / covered with words and words and more words— // I may never find the right words to describe this.”



Praise for C. Dale Young


From The Washington Post

"Sometimes the ability to convey information compactly and quickly has moral grace. [Young's] writing can put garrulous narration or evasive speechifying to shame." --Robert Pinsky


From the New York Times Book Review

"Young's poems are so fierce and serrated. Young is both a poet and a doctor. Those two practices converge with harrowing force in the title poem, "Torn," [and] take a striking turn at the end, a turn that hints at the kind of hard insight Young surely has access to through his medical work."

From the Los Angeles Review of Books

"Like medicine, poetry may demand that we treat wounds, that we understand mortality, that we apply all possible skill to the often messy terrain of human life. But poetry can also demand that we not repair, that we leave torn what is torn. This is Young’s great gift. He balances his desire to treat his subjects exquisitely and assiduously with his healthy skepticism about easy resolutions."

From Kenyon Review Online

"C. Dale Young’s latest book of poems, Torn, strikes me as haunted: the speakers are preoccupied with human frailty, strength, and lust; with a complex and contradictory relationship with God; and with violence in forms small and large. Particularly haunted—and haunting—are the poems in the book’s third section, which grapple with the speaker’s responsibility and vulnerability as a doctor."

From the NPR Best Poetry Collections of 2011 citation

"Young is a doctor as well as a poet, and Torn demonstrates a skilled physician's combination of empathy and formal precision.."

From Ploughshares

"On the surface, the overriding wisdom of Torn might seem to be that we cannot rely on art to tell us the whole truth or even depend upon those who are supposed to protect us. And yet the book is also evidence of a poet who is compelled to make visible the darkness around us. Whether or not that itself is an act of tenderness, Young refuses to say for certain. And that is what makes his poetry a crucible where readers must confront their own beliefs—about poetry, society, and themselves."

From The Rumpus

"Young uses this third book to address injustices, the divisions caused by pain, prejudice, and a fractured spirit. In Torn, his poems represent his repeated attempts to create sutures from separations - between God and man, man and his fellows, self and the shadow."

From the Belleview Literary Review

"The thrill of Young's work (paradoxically) is that it takes place in slow motion. The collision is set in motion early in the poem, and inexorably, the impact approaches. The endings of his poems are devastating precisely because they have been coming for so long. He makes us wait, but always delivers."

From r.kv.r.y.

"C. Dale Young has given his readers a celebration, a gorgeous lamentation, and an attempt, as the surgeon in the title poem tells us with despair, at perfection. And here, Young has come as close to that ideal as fallible words and human hands can."

Book Jacket Copy

"C. Dale Young's poems employ sly forms of repetition, touching back to phrases we've already encountered as if to to guide us along the poem's winding way. How important -- and how fierce -- these directions turn out to be as his poems push into their deepest territory: the burden of expectation and guilt, the fiercely pressurized experience that an education in 'the healing arts' becomes. 'Stitch up the faggot in Bed 6,' goes the most harrowing of Young's refrains; the speaker does exactly that, mending what he can. And the poet, likewise, brings all his strength to bear on the necessary work of art, which is also a means of tending and of stitching, a craft that by its very artfulness implies the possibility of hope."

--Mark Doty

"C. Dale Young’s arresting new collection, Torn, examines the body and mind in various states, grappling with—in meditations on God, fear, and failure—our mortality. With clarity and precision, the poems uncover the secrets of blood and lust and heart, the nature of selfhood, and the accompanying larger social and political implications of identity. Beneath all this is a quest for beauty and evidence of the poet’s deeply humane intelligence and the breadth of his sensibilities. As in these lines from the title poem, 'Stitch after stitch, the slender exactness of my fingers/attempted perfection,' here the dual aims of content and form are beautifully realized, fine as the speaker’s sutures—each edge meeting its opposing match."

--Natasha Trethewey