Being a leading university means leading in many diverse areas. I’m delighted that Professor Dean Young of our English Department has been named the 2014 Texas Poet Laureate. Recognized nationally as one of the most influential poets writing today, he holds the William Livingston Chair of Poetry at UT. He’s published 12 books of poetry and one volume of prose on the aesthetics of poetry. His numerous awards and honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Levinson Prize, the Colorado Poetry Prize, a Wallace E. Stegner Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2005 he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and his poems are regularly featured in the Best American Poetry annual series.
Below is his poem “Age of Discovery.” Congratulations, Dean. We’re proud of your designation and know you will be a great ambassador to the state.
Age of Discovery
by Dean Young
On the 182nd day of the 34th year
of my education,
I wake to a snow that seems falling faster
than snow, so blossom-heavy,
but I know that classic experiment
atop the Tower of Pisa, Galileo’s proof
how, regardless of mass, all things drop
at the same rate. What falls falls,
I’d like to write, in continuous swoon
but that is only music just as
there is only music in the old claims
of soul leaving the body in a powdery
whoosh, an unwedging at the scapulas
scattering birds from belfry and roof,
a whir like radium half-lifting.
I’ve scoffed at the man who’s spent his life
trying to photograph ghosts, the woman
who teaches how to breathe from the tips
of toes but surely there’s a plethora
of forces bound and unbinding within us.