DEAN YOUNG BENEFIT: if you reset your heart

(Evan Karp)

We were told if we set our hearts to something we could achieve it. Some of us believed this and handed our hearts, in high school, to other boys and girls. Some of us hid that heart in such precious chests that we buried the chests, don’t know where they are, too afraid to look and not find them. Some whipped them, our only hearts, in tiny increments; we wanted every document (every show) with our imprint on it to bleed self sacrament.

Those of us who cherished the heart, the idea of it, we believed no matter how far deconstructed the thing heart the word heart stood for something beyond biological, beyond logical to something fundamentally more sound, that there is something like sunshine peaking through the best of language, that the best of language contains the greatest amount of it, construction only couching the glare we feel and are, in reality, something brighter than we can understand or negotiate but can, at will, exude.

Some of us compressed our hearts, in need of the cowbirl’s burrs. Some sought the epic, wanting to hold a lighter up in a sea of lit lighters, a warzone for something greater, we raised our hands to be the ones who light the bonfire, to stay on mountains, to serve as beacon that we yet breathe and fight for horizons, lost in our story and found in our story, alternately, but always keepers of the human flame.

Some of us became flames so large we ignited communities, were claimed by alma maters, academies and other foundations, institutions, even nations.

“This one is ours,” we have said. Yet we say it so rarely.

Often, we claim our stars only after they have died. Often this is because it takes so long for their light to reach us. But there are stars all around us. And some of us are not afraid of going blind.

On Thursday, Jun 23 ZYZZYVA and the Squaw Valley Community of Writers organized a Bay Area benefit to help Dean Young absorb the staggering costs of his recent heart transplant. You can read more about that here and here.

UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Hall was packed with supporters, including an exceptional roster of poets, each of whom read one of Dean’s poems and one of their own. These poets, both colleagues and admirers, shared some of their favorite poems in a heartfelt tribute to one we proudly call our own.

To make a donation, go to

David Breskin

W.S. Di Piero

Joseph Di Prisco

Robert Hass

Brenda Hillman

Troy Jollimore

Dora Malech

D.A. Powell

Octavio Solis

Michael Wiegers