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Tue, 04.29.1947

Yusef Komunyakaa, a man of many words

Yusef Komunyakaa

*The birth of Yusef Komunyakaa in 1947 is celebrated on this date. He is a Black poet and writer.

From Bogalusa, Louisiana, his numerous books of poems include Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975-1999 (Wesleyan University Press, 2001); Talking Dirty to the Gods (2000); Thieves of Paradise (1998), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977-1989 (1994), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Magic City (1992); Dien Cai Dau (1988), which won The Dark Room Poetry Prize; I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head (1986), winner of the San Francisco Poetry Center Award; and Copacetic (1984).

Komunyakaa's prose is collected in Blues Notes: Essays, Interviews & Commentaries (University of Michigan Press, 2000). He also co-edited The Jazz Poetry Anthology (with J. A. Sascha Feinstein, 1991) and co-translated The Insomnia of Fire by Nguyen Quang Thieu (with Martha Collins, 1995). His honors include the William Faulkner Prize from the Université de Rennes, the Thomas Forcade Award, the Hanes Poetry Prize, fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Louisiana Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam, where he served as a correspondent and managing editor of the Southern Cross.

In 1999 he was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. Yusef Komunyakaa is a professor in the Council of Humanities and Creative Writing Program at Princeton University. He lives in New York City.

Reference:
Ploughshares
Emerson College
120 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116

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