To Repel Ghosts: The Remix
 
 


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To Repel Ghosts: The Remix [Paperback]

Kevin Young
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Book Description

September 27, 2005
Revamped from its original "double album" version of 350 pages into this unique "remix," To Repel Ghosts captures the dynamic work and brief life of the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

In spare, jazzlike verse Kevin Young tells the story of Basquiat's rise from the mock prophet and graffiti artist SAMO to one of the hottest painters of the 1980s ("blue-chip Basquiat / playing the bull / market"), exploring the artist's bouts with fame and heroin, mourning his untimely death, and celebrating his legacy. Along the way Young riffs on Basquiat's paintings and sayings, on the music he loved, on the artists he ran with (Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, among them), and on the black heroes (Charlie Parker, Muhammad Ali, Billie Holiday) who inspired him.

Young's poetic channeling of Basquiat--a jostling, poignant brand of downtownspeak--makes for an urban epic in the tradition of Langston Hughes's "A Dream Deferred." To Repel Ghosts, along with Young's Jelly Roll: A Blues and Black Maria, his recent book of film noir verse, forms an American trilogy--Devil's Music--that explores other art forms through poetry. In its creation, Yound has become a poet whose work speaks both for and beyond his genre, with a music all its own.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Kevin Young is the author of four previous collections of poetry and the editor of Library of America's John Berryman: Selected Poems, Everyman's Library Pocket Poets anthology Blues Poems, and Giant Steps: The New Generation of African American Writers. His book Jelly Roll was finalist for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and won the Paterson Poetry Prize. Young, who has also been the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, is currently the Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Creative Writing and curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (September 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037571023X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375710230
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #793,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kevin Young is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Dear Darkness, named one of the Best Books of 2008 by National Public Radio's All Things Considered, and winner of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Award in poetry. His book Jelly Roll: A Blues was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Paterson Poetry Prize. He is the editor of four other volumes, including Blues Poems, Jazz Poems, and the Library of America's John Berryman: Selected Poems. The curator of literary collections and the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library and Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University, Young lives in Boston and Atlanta.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I was already a fan of Kevin Young's more recent books when I picked up "To Repel Ghosts" at a used bookstore. I also happened to be familiar with the story of arts world phenom Jean-Michel Basquiat as well. But still, I was surprised by the depth, complexity and surprises found in this book.

The scope of "To Repel Ghosts" is enormous. Kevin Young trains his keen eyes on not only Basquiat -- the life he lived, the people who knew him, what drove him and his art -- but on Basquiat's own obsessions: the people, objects and themes which populated his art. Young tells the story of Basquiat's life, yes, but it ways that surprise and reinvent themselves in all its 350+ pages, a true testament to Young's command and ambition.

For instance, Young lifts phrases from Basquiat paintings (which Basquiat himself sometimes lifted off of other people) to use in this poems, so in doing so creates hybrids of Young and Basquiat's poetics. Young also quotes (in poetry and as stand alones) other people's views of Basquiat, both positive and negative, allowing us breathers from Basquiat's wild thoughts as well as insights into the journey Basquiat was on. Young also responds directly to Basquiat's art work, writing numerous poems responding to one painting each. And this is just a few examples of styles and approaches which Young utilized in creating this book. And the stunning end product is a dense hybrid-world, where you are constantly zooming inside and outside of Basquiat's mind and his art. You become obsessed with Basquiat's obsessions, and yet are kept soberly aware of Basquiat's harrowing future, the choices he is making (or not making) which will lead to his early demise.
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