Kevin Young, born in 1970, expresses his love and admiration for his “aunties” in this warm and affectionate tribute. Resourceful, resilient, sometimes strict, but always loving in their proper way, these women have had a profound impact on Young. They can threaten to “whup the daylights out of you,” but they are also the backbone of the family, providing not just food and comfort, but preserving family history. Young skillfully combines youthful memories with more mature reflections on his heritage. “If not them,” he asks, “who will win heaven, holding tight to their pocketbooks at the pearly gates, just in case?”
Born and raised in the Midwest, Young draws on ties to his African-American Southern and Cajun roots in many of his poems. He currently teaches at Emory University and serves as curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, a collection of 75,000 volumes of rare and modern poetry.