“Most of the poems in Young's articulate and honest third collection say something to, and about, the facts of his life: his Catholic and Latino heritage, his years spent in... [continued in Reviews below]”—Publishers Weekly
An essential collection that struggles to understand our human and spiritual selves
In 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.”
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Reviews / Endorsements
“Most of the poems in Young's articulate and honest third collection say something to, and about, the facts of his life: his Catholic and Latino heritage, his years spent in Boston, his residence in San Francisco, his training as a physician, and his self-discovery as a gay man. "Dear God, what was it you placed in the heart," he asks, "not of necessity, but because it is the center/ of all moral forces and impulses?" Such slightly elevated language and the sound effects that go with it (occasional rhyme, the specter of pentameter) serves Young well, though his earnestness can topple over into predictability: "We choose not to believe./ We continue living. We refuse to grieve." When he writes about his medical education, however, in the last part of the book, Young (The Second Person) acquires a harsh light that belongs to him alone: we see the "lime-like pale green" of "a room in which to dissect cadavers," we hear of the thoughtless doctor who ‘announced to everyone that you were the best/ minority student she had ever had," and we learn how Young defines " ‘the healing arts,'/ that strange desire to fix the human machine.’”—Publishers Weekly
“C. Dale Young’s poems employ sly forms of repetition as if 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.”—Mark Doty
“…Torn, examines the body and mind in various states, grappling with—in meditations on God, fear, and failure—our mortality. Beneath all this is a quest for beauty and evidence of the poet’s deeply humane intelligence and the breadth of his sensibilities.”—Natasha Trethewey
From the Book:
Stone and Fire
The sea sounds its regrets against rocks each year.
None of us had learned a kind of gentleness,
and this one could hear in our words, sharp as they were
as they sank through the air on our porches. Fire
is what comes to mind when I think of us talking, the sea
and its endless murmur nothing but backdrop like trees.
How odd that the mind would settle on heat and fire
to describe the words that fell among us, not gold
or the golden, but the raw flicker that consumes things
indiscriminately. What privilege affords such liars?
To speak of Life, we mentioned paintings by Renoir
and the flawless sonnet that recounted the wall
that circled Eden. But the time for such talk is gone.
Sometimes, perhaps, it is easier to forget than to recall
how men each day die with visions offered by fools
like us. Stone and Fire, Fire and Stone—
we kill as we always have. And we choose not to believe.
We continue living; we refuse to grieve.
Author of three poetry collections, C. DALE YOUNG practices medicine in San Francisco and teaches at Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program.