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Kevin Young, a 1992 graduate, will be awarded the Harvard Arts Medal.

Harvard University is set to honor Kevin Young ’92, a renowned poet, scholar, and director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, with the prestigious 2024 Harvard Arts Medal. The award ceremony will take place during the spring as part of the Arts First Festival organized by the Office for the Arts.

Jack Megan, the director of the Office for the Arts, expressed excitement about honoring Young, stating that the Harvard Arts Medal recognizes Harvard graduates who have made significant contributions to the arts and serve as an inspiration to aspiring artists. Young, known for his remarkable work in poetry, is the author of 15 books of poetry and prose, including critically acclaimed works like “Stones” and “Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015.” He is also the poetry editor at the New Yorker and has edited multiple poetry volumes.

Tracy K. Smith, professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard, praised Young for his ability to capture various vernaculars in his poetry, creating intimate connections through language. Young, a Harvard alum with an M.F.A. from Brown University, has received numerous accolades throughout his career, including being elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

In 2021, Young took on the role of director at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, following his tenure as director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. He previously served as a professor at Emory University, where he curated the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library.

The Harvard Arts Medal, established in 1995, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated excellence in the arts and made significant contributions to education or the public good. Past recipients include notable figures like Yo-Yo Ma ’76 and Matt Damon ’92. Young will receive the award from Interim President Alan Garber during a public ceremony at Lowell Lecture Hall on April 24, with the event also being live-streamed for all to enjoy.

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