“They Said I Wasn’t College Material by Scot Young is a collection that spans time and circumstances, by a poet willing to resurrect the sting of assumptions and expectations to turn the lens in the other direction. He challenges social gatekeeping, and the classist label culture that nurtures the privileged and pushes the rest of us toward their service. He understands what feeds self doubt and steers destiny away from us, and he goes after the source.
His poems celebrate the capacity to experience and feel honestly, when that is often suppressed: “when young boys cried/wiped tears before dads could see.” These poems convey love, nostalgia, hope, fear, anxiety, and more in connection with identity in a body of work that speaks to peeling back those expectations. Authenticity and humility draw people to connect with his poetry, and this is what he is after: “I only strive/to put one word in front of the other/ and hold it there long enough/ for it to matter/ to somebody.” It matters to us, for sure.
Young knows that crushing aspiration and potential crushes people, particularly at times when we have every right to see a future that is ours to shape. For those of us lucky to know Scot Young, we know that this is his cause- to remind us all of that most fundamental right. He shares what he has learned about the breakers and the broken, and he rejects the perpetuation of that power. Besides, there is dignity in choosing our own damage: “even bluebirds/ that are set free/ fly into windows.”
This is not the same as holding up the glass.”
—E. Lynn Alexander, Co-Founder and editor of Collapse Press
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