The Day Underneath the Day
The Second Person
Four Way Books, 2021
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E-mail the author at cdaleyoung at cdaleyoung dot com
The Fifth Collection of Poetry from an Award-Winning Poet
"An unflinching reckoning with the traumas of one's life and those inherited through a history of exacted injustices "Some men find nothing, and others/ find omens everywhere," writes C. Dale Young in Prometeo, a collection whose speaker is a proverbial "child of fire." In poems that thrive off of their distinct voice, the speaker confronts generational and lived trauma and their relationship to his multi-ethnicity. We are presented with the idea of the past's burial in the body and its constellatory manifestations-both in the speaker and those around him-in disease and pain, but also in strength and a capacity for intimacy with others and nature. Grounded in precise language, Young's examination of the past and its injuries turns into a celebration of the self..
Praise for Prometeo
From The Millions
"As a child," Young writes in a poem halfway through this book, "I asked my mother to listen to me / while I practiced words like cobalt, each one more / and more odd for their sounds, their structures." Drawn to syntax and sound, the narrator remembers the repetition of Mass--how he was "trying to master // the language, the very words, fearful they would master / me, instead." Years later, Young, the poet (and radiation oncologist) has mastered language in this finely wrought new volume. Continuing a tradition from previous books like The Second Person, Young's narrators have inherited languages of religion and desire, and they intertwine in their ecstasy. "You punish or are punished," he writes. "It really is that simple. // Dominus, Holy Father. I have hidden myself / in the cane field. I may have sinned." "Portrait in Ochre and Seven Whispers" is a searing poem of suffering and abuse, beginning with: "To make and remake one's self is / the artist's job, I believed. And so, in poems, / I gave myself wings." The narrator later laments: "You were supposed to save us. You were / supposed to help save our souls. Isn't that part / of the vow you made to God when choosing / the life you did?" He ends the stanza: "You must have forgotten that. / You didn't kill my soul. But you didn't save it either." An excellent book. --Nick Ripatrazone
From Publishers Weekly
The contemplative fifth collection from Young (The Halo) explores the places and lineages that provide the raw materials for self-invention and subsequent reinvention. Like the flickering flames of Promethean creation, Young's poems challenge concepts of uniformity, revealing them to be fleeting and illusory. "Fractured, divided to the quick, I am incapable// of being singular," he writes of his own ancestry. Young engages with the history of the Caribbean, Europe, and Mexico, a history that is tied to deeper, often hidden realities: "We are of this dirt. We cannot/ be killed off, the old women say. And in the base pairs/ of our DNA, we discover the truth. One can hide/ many things, but the truth is always there." There is a strong connection between identity and place in these poems, which Young traces in the language of nostalgia and familiarity: "Alone/ on the soft sand, the surf mumbled the old language./ Like my great-great-grandmother who visits me/ in dreams, it said: Salt or no salt, trust no one." Young powerfully maneuvers through complex issues of multiethnicity and heritage in direct poetic language, inviting readers to immerse themselves in the many truths his collection reveals.
Advanced Praise for Prometeo
From A. Van Jordan
"Prometeo operates as an opera of poems, singing of our ongoing struggle both with those we love and with the struggle to find love from within for ourselves. C. Dale Young writes with the unvarnished voice we use when we speak freely to those we trust. Not only from its candor but also from its music, a truth springs from these pages that will catch you off guard. In a world filled with platitudes,I'm grateful for these poems, which hold no small talk. It's rare these days that I'm moved to tears while reading a collection of poems; a part of me often feels like I've heard it all before, but these poems broke me down."
From Ilya Kaminsky
"Heartbreaking and beautiful is Prometeo, a book so eloquent the heart stops but refuses to stop reading. These are glorious poems in memoriam for friends, family members, patients. 'I have written too many elegies,' the poet says, 'the living have become jealous of the amount I have written for the dead.' Indeed, fellow poets must be jealous of this book's fearless spirit, of its music. I have been reading these poems of sorrow and eloquence non-stop for days now. Their lyric impulse is inimitable."
From Ada Limon
"At once concerned with personal and generational history, Prometeo is a book of gorgeously-wrought poems that unveils deeply human truths. Young's unparalleled gifts for formal constraints and sound-driven language remind us that beauty is found in all things and that despite the wounds, language can serve as a lighthouse guiding us, again and again, back to love."