Describing Jake York as “a poet \relentlessly dedicated to the foot soldiers of the civil rights movement, with occasional forays into celebrating the virtues of barbecue,” the Denver Post notes that Jake, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver, was named a Literature Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts this year. The article goes on:
He grew up in Gadsden,Ala., the son of a steel worker and a history teacher. He and his brother, Joe, shared a bedroom in the family home on a remote wooded road. The walls were plastered with posters ofLL Cool J,Run DMC and other rappers. At night, York fiddled with his radio to catch a distant R&B station. …
“This is a 15-year-old kid in northeast Alabama in 1988, where white boys didn’t listen to rap. But he did, and he loved it. Listening to those guys really tapped into his love of playing with language. He went to college to become an architect, but after two quarters at Auburn — and he was an A student — he became more interested in the architecture that holds our lives together.”
National poet laureate and close friend Natasha Tretheweyfondly called York “MegaMind,” a nod to his encyclopedic knowledge, and praised his facility for confronting racism in his deceptively effortless poems.
It’s all worth reading.