What is the Blue Turn?

Photo by Adam Rubinstein

Photo by Adam Rubinstein


Hi! My name is Mike Young. I hope you are doing well! Your hair looks exciting! It’s been a while since I did a poetry tour, so I decided to do a ridiculously large tour of poetry and music and woes and treasures.


Well, I got a hat that says Reno on it. My heart turned into this rock I stole from a glacier in Alaska. Almost drove my car into another car with almond orchards on either side of us!

So basically all the usual reasons for a tour of poetry and music and woes and treasures!


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I’m the author of two poetry collections: 2014’s Sprezzatura (nice nods in VICE, BOMB, Harriet, etc.) and 2010’s We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough, which was selected by readers of The Believer as one of the Top 20 Poetry Books of 2010. I also wrote a book of stories, 2010’s Look! Look! Feathers, that Publishers Weekly called “relevant, wise, and immensely enjoyable.”


Since 2007, I’ve run a small press called Magic Helicopter, which puts out chapbooks and full length books and interactive art. MHP stuff has received nice nods from the New York Times, Nylon, The Rumpus, American Book Review, and so on.

When I play music by myself, I sound like a train conductor who wears Christmas lights instead of a jacket even when it's very cold. Here is a sample of this idea from Denver:


I've played all over the country at bars, breweries, creeks, laundromats, and more. Some other songwriters I’ve shared the stage with: Nat Baldwin (of Dirty Projectors), Sadie Dupuis (of Speedy Ortiz), Dave Dondero, and many others.

The Santa Fe Reporter called my band’s music "lyric-driven boogie that shimmers with haunted grit.” The Portland Mercury said “intimate country-tinged garage pop.” One morning, after a show in front of a creek, someone texted: “I was drunk last night, but I meant it when I said your songs are still with me.”

In 2015, Black Cake Records released my first album Imagine a Fire You Can Wear As a Coat. These days, I live in Santa Fe, NM, where I make music with the band Clementine Was Right.


I am calling this tour “The Blue Turn,” and the premise is a little bit weirder than a normal tour.

First, I live in Santa Fe, NM, where there is a thing called Zozobra, which is a giant puppet people stuff full of their woes and then burn. I won’t have any burning, but basically I am going to be in a blue car, and I have a tin of woes, and you can get rid of your woes by putting them in my tin.

Second, I will be bringing treasures. Like:


But the thing I am really excited about is I also plan to have a treasure chest for trading: people will be able to put in a lucky charm or a book or CD or zine of theirs and take out something that someone else has put in.

So people in one city might trade for the books/music/art/charms of people from somewhere else. And a sweet circulation will happen across this puffed land.


Yes, I will be normal. Like I will sing some songs and do some poems. I will have a new chapbook called I Know We Don’t Know Each Other That Well, But I Made It Back to the Desert and a new EP called Can a Headlight.

Here is what I look like when I sing songs (with my friend Ceci):

And here is what I look like when I do poems:

And of course I will be joining forces with locals to do poems and/or sing as well!


Please come out and bring treasures! And take treasures! And leave woes! You will get to do these things as well:

  • You will get to say “You go back”

  • You will get to sing “I’m outside of Reno”

  • You will get to write down your woe and pass it to a stranger, and both of you will get to say “I gave the old woe / to the blue turn”


Where is the Blue Turn?


Sat 3/8 Denver, CO Death Horse at Bar Max

Tue 3/12 Omaha, NE Media Corp

Wed 3/13 Des Moines, IA The Fremont

Thu 3/14 Iowa City, IA PS1

Fri 3/15 Chicago, IL Volumes

Sat 3/16 Chicago, IL Uncharted Books

Sun 3/17 St Louis, MO House show (DM for address)

Tue 3/19 Cincinnati, OH Art Academy of Cincinnati

Wed 3/20 Columbus, OH Two Dollar Radio

Thu 3/21 Buckhannon, WV Stone Tower Brews

Sat 3/23 Pittsburgh, PA White Whale

Sun 3/24 Buffalo, NY Duende

Mon 3/25 Ithaca, NY Grayhaven Motel

Thu 3/28 Baltimore, MD Normals

Thu 4/4 Northampton, MA Dead Bird

Sun 4/7 Brooklyn, NY Molasses Books

Tue 4/9 Philly, PA House show (DM 4 address)

Wed 4/10 DC Roof show (DM 4 address)

Fri 4/12 Durham, NC Howse Party (DM 4 address)

Mon 4/15 Atlanta, GA House show (DM 4 address)

Wed 4/17 Nashville, TN Nashville Poetry Library

Fri 4/19 New Orleans, LA New Orleans Poetry Festival

Sat 4/20 New Orleans, LA New Orleans Poetry Festival

Sun 4/21 Memphis, TN Lamplighter Lounge

Tue 4/23 Fayetteville, AR House show (DM 4 address)

Wed 4/24 Lawrence, KS Raven Books

Thu 4/25 Kansas City, MO Velo Garage & Tao House

Fri 4/26 Wichita, KS Mikrobrews @ TBA

Sat 4/27 Oklahoma City, OK House show (DM 4 address)

Fri 5/3 Denton, TX Spiderweb Salon

Sat 5/4 Austin, TX House show (DM 4 address)

Sun 5/5 Marfa, TX TBA

Mon 5/6 El Paso, TX Neon Rose

Tue 5/7 T or C, NM Truth or Consequences Brewing Company

Thu 5/9 Albuquerque, NM TBA

Sat 5/11 Santa Fe, NM Desert Dogs

 How is the Blue Turn Going?