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Conversations with Yusef Komunyakaa

Conversations with Yusef Komunyakaa

Edited by Shirley A. James Hanshaw
Series: Literary Conversations Series

Paperback : 9781604734225, 224 pages, March 2010
Hardcover : 9781604734218, 224 pages, April 2010

Over two decades of interviews with the first African American male author to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry


Conversations with Yusef Komunyakaabrings together over two decades of interviews and profiles with one of America's most prolific and acclaimed contemporary poets. Yusef Komunyakaa (b. 1947) describes his work alternately as “word paintings” and as “music,” and his affinity with the visual and aural arts is amply displayed in these conversations. The volume also addresses the diversity and magnitude of Komunyakaa's literary output. His collaborations with artists in a variety of genres, including music, dance, drama, opera, and painting have produced groundbreaking performance pieces. Throughout the collection, Komunyakaa's interest in finding and creating poetry across the artistic spectrum is made manifest.

For his collection Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, 1977-1989, Komunyakaa became the first African American male to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Through his work he provides keen insight into life's mysteries from seemingly inconsequential and insignificant life forms (“Ode to the Maggot”) to some of the most compelling historical and life-altering events of our time, such as the Vietnam War (“Facing It”). Influenced strongly by jazz, blues, and folklore, as well as the classical poetic tradition, his poetry comprises a riveting chronicle of the African American experience.