May 16, 2005
Former UCSC writing instructor named state's
By Jim Burns
Al Young, who was an instructor in writing during the 1980s
and early 1990s at UCSC, was appointed California's poet laureate
on May 12 by Governor Schwarzenegger.
The position of poet laureate was created in 2001 to inspire
an emerging generation of literary artists and to call attention
to the poets and authors who have influenced California through
their creative expression.
"Al Young is a poet, an educator and a man with a passion
for the arts," Schwarzenegger said. "His remarkable
talent and sense of mission to bring poetry into the lives of
Californians is an inspiration."
Young, 65, was born in Mississippi and began publishing poems,
stories, and articles in his early teens. Young has lived most
of his life in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has taught poetry
and fiction writing at a number of universities, including UCSC,
UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and Stanford.
In his first affiliation with UCSC, in 1983-84, Young worked
with students in a number of courses, including an early course
entitled Writing About Community, in affiliation with
what would become the Community Studies Department.
As a visiting associate professor affiliated with the Literature
Department in the mid- to late-1980s, Young taught such courses
as advanced writing, screenwriting, and the American short story.
A lecturer in literature (creative writing) in the late 1980s
and early 1990s, Young continued to mentor UCSC students, teaching
courses in fiction, screenwriting, and advanced writing. During
those years, he also taught a course titled Art and Trash,
comparing the works of the greats of American literature to
those produced by commercially successful contemporary writers.
As a result of the 2001 state legislation, the California Arts
Council solicited nominations from literary groups, public and
private arts organizations, literary critics, and universities
for the position. A panel of literary professionals subsequently
reviewed the candidates, and the names of four nominees, including
Young's, were submitted to the governor for consideration.
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