130 pages: $16.00
Andy Young’s debut poetry collection cuts across geography, politics, language, and culture. Raised in Appalachia, rooted in New Orleans, and now part of an Egyptian/American family with whom she spent the last two years in Cairo, hers is an American perspective that is refreshingly outward-looking. The poems reflect on living life with a foot in both Arabic and Western cultures but reach beyond the personal to inhabit other realms: from a saucy Cleopatra to a coal miner emerging from a mine collapse, from the ruins of post-Katrina New Orleans to the tumultuous events of the Egyptian revolution. Using the aubade, the traditional form of lovers parting at dawn, to anchor the book, Young examines destruction in the wake of storms, wars and revolution, but also at the ways in which we connect within these disasters. These poems exhibit what Daniel Tobin calls “astonishing formal variety,” embracing the lyric, narrative, fragmentary, as well as traditional forms such as the sonnet.
The book’s cover, a graffiti mural by Alaa Awad, now destroyed, that led the way to Tahrir Square, is a work both ancient and modern, urban and agrarian, beautiful and horrible. This captures the spirit of the book, steeped in mourning and hope and a belief in the voice of the people.
Andy Young’s amazing poems pledge allegiance to life. They have witnessed, travelled and gathered so much elemental power and light, they can’t stop giving it back.
—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of You and Yours, winner of the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award.
In her fearless addition to the poetry of disaster, Young moves from the Katrina and Deep Water Horizon events in Louisiana to the political turmoils in Egypt and back to her roots in the mining towns of West Virginia. I know of no other poet writing today who so unremittingly arrests and details the political as personal. This is the book we have all been waiting for.
—Peter Cooley, author of Night Bus to the Afterlife
These poems by Andy Young open the world and fearlessly cross cultures. From the unspeakable to what must be spoken, from Katrina/post-Katrina where streets “tumbled to sticks/and tricycles hang from a wire,” to months of family in the during and aftermath of a raging, hopeful Egypt with its smoke and prison trucks, this American poet tracks tragedy and love, what we owe and are owed and how no one can ever pay. Meanwhile, her two children are born. Meanwhile, there are dates and figs and sandalwood “at the brink of war.” It turns out that this life, small, is huge. And however endangered, one species regardless, all of us. These dark and remarkable poems get that. And celebrate that.
—Marianne Boruch, author of Cadaver, Speak and The Book of Hours.
All Night It Is Morning is an arresting collection! Brave ruminations on places that come apart and reassemble.
—Nathalie Handal, editor of The Poetry of Arab Women.
The kind of nonconformist seeing and feeling that Andy Young performs in All Night It Is Morning agitates a reader towards a more humane and communal understanding of our collective journey, far beyond continents and lands to the singular realm of the heart. These poems, “chanting [our] conjured glamour,” maintain a music that urges us toward prayer and dance.
—Major Jackson, author of Holding Company, Hoops, and Leaving Saturn
All Night It Is Morning, Andy Young’s exceptional first book of poems, is filled with songs and narratives of witness, local, cross-cultural, trans-national, all deeply and personally marked by current history and a profound sensitivity to other lives. Hers is a poetry of startling receptivity, genuine vision, and astonishing formal variety. From West Virginia to Chile, El Salvador to Beirut, Morocco to Fallujah, Egypt to her adopted home of New Orleans, Andy Young writes poems that evoke wonder, terror, intimacy, and her own experience of otherness living abroad knowing all the while that she, too, carries “the world inside her.” She can raise a fist to human exploitation and offer thanks “to the God we know by different names.” And she can sing, bravely, compassionately, like that Chilean woman she depicts vividly in the aftershock of catastrophe, out of the ashes.
—Daniel Tobin, author of Belated Heavens and The Net.
Andy Young’s powerful debut, All Night It Is Morning, sweeps us from the American South to the Middle East and back, in lyric poetry limned with precision, sympathy, and her wise spacious stance. Young’s poems are made from tumult—whether it’s the shattered Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina or the perilous strife of Cairo’s Tahrir Square—yet reach, time and again, for peace: “through my husband’s / laptop / selmeya selmeya / peaceful / peaceful / he says.” This poet shows us how to distrust, even to dissolve the inaccurate distinctions we too handily make—among the personal and political, among the familial, natural, and aesthetic—to find a more synthetic blending. Such is the poet’s most revolutionary achievement: To embrace difference is to find likeness, even perhaps to find hope.
—David Baker, author of Never-Ending Birds, recipient of the 2011 Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize.