Measured and precise. Reflective and kind. The artistry in C. Dale Young’s poems resonate with his “real” job. Young is a physician–an oncology radiologist–and has said that because of the demands of his work, he only writes four or five poems a year and works continuously on them until they are complete. His commitment and sustained focus comes through in the poems—you hear the care he has given them and they feel contained and whole.
Many of C. Dale Young’s poems directly address his work as a physician. The interior view of a physician is not a perspective we are afforded very often—we think of doctors almost as things there to serve us and in our times of need, we can forget that while they are caring for us and our loved ones, they are also having a human experience themselves. Technically, the poems play with repetition of rhyme, line fragments and the ends of lines. This repetition gives the reader a chance to revisit the same territory through the course of a poem and to emphasize the importance of what might seem small details. “Torn,” the title poem for Young’s 2011 book, tells of a doctor giving stitches to young man after a hate-crime beating. The opening stanza follows:
There was the knife and the broken syringe
then the needle in my hand, the Tru-Cut
followed by the night-blue suture.
Throughout the remainder of the tightly composed poem, “the needle and the night-blue suture trailing behind it” reappears. And there is a turn in the poems’ voice, where the narrator takes over and reveals the extra care he provides:
Even though I knew there were others to be seen,
I sat there and slowly threw each stitch.
There were always others to be seen. There was
always the bat and the knife…
The intention and focus of the speaker amidst a troubling reality, is resonant with Young’s intentionality as a poet. In interviews, he is equally thoughtful and careful. There doesn’t seem to be a single wasted utterance or half-conceived thought. We look forward to welcoming C. Dale Young to the Festival for the first time. You can find more of his poems on his website and at The Poetry Foundation.
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