NYU Lillian Vernon House 58 West 10th Street New York, NY 10003 & Morning Share: Stories, Lessons and Reflections from Working with Yusef Komunyakaa featuring Cornelius Eady, Brian Francis, Pamela Knowles, Jerome Ellison Murphy, Dante Micheaux, Sharon Olds, Hermine Pinson, Nicole Sealey and Soren Stockman.
It was also a place of stark segregation and racial violence.
In “Dark Waters,” he describes how the disparity between the white marble monuments dedicated to southern generals and the makeshift graves of African-Americans near the festering town dump “was analogous to the town’s psyche.” Writing for the in 2009, he said of his childhood, “It was impossible not to have known and lived within the social and political dimensions of skin color.” However, for him Bogalusa was also a place of stunning natural beauty where “yellow flowers/go on forever” and “slate-blue catfish” swimming under a pond’s surface cause swamp orchids to “quiver under green hats.” He grew up surrounded by the rich musical and storytelling tradition of the Deep South.
In 1999, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Yusef Komunyakaa is a senior faculty member in the NYU Creative Writing Program.
He may read some lines quickly, so that they seem to run together and are punctuated by the consonants’ staccato.
Other times, he reads slowly so that each line seems to hang in the air, as the listener is suspended in the silence at the end of the line, waiting for the next image the poet will conjure.He received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for “extraordinary lifetime accomplishments” from The Poetry Foundation in 2001 and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 2011. from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in 1975, an M. , poet Toi Dericotte said: “He [Komunyakaa] takes on the most complex moral issues, the most harrowing ugly subjects of our American life.Komunyakaa has taught at a number of universities including the University of New Orleans, Indiana University, and Princeton University, and he is currently the Distinguished Senior Poet in the Creative Writing Program at New York University. Army during the Vietnam War and earned a Bronze Star for his work as editor and correspondent for the military newspaper . His voice, whether it embodies the specific experiences of a black man, a soldier in Vietnam, or a child in Bogalusa, Louisiana, is universal.In the , Robyn Selman writes: “[His] poems rise to a crescendo, like that moment in songs one or two beats before the bridge, when everything is hooked-up, full-blown.” The metaphor is apt; Komunyakaa’s poetry is suffused with the rhythms of jazz, which the poet has often cited as a source of inspiration and influence.He told the in 1992, “I feel blessed that something pulled jazz and poetry together inside me.” The rhythm of his poetry is also inflected with the idiom of his native Louisiana., preceded by a day of events at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House.Co-presented with NYU Creative Writing Program, with support from the PEN World Voices Festival and the Poetry Foundation. Special thanks to our featured event sponsors Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP); Harper Collins; Boston University; NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; Red Olive Creative Consulting; Dr. Jackson; Kwame Dawes; Marie-Elizabeth Mali; and Dawn Lundy Martin!Komunyakaa was born and raised in Bogalusa, Louisiana. It shows us in ever deeper ways what it is to be human.” Since then, he has published several books of poems, including (2000). in Creative Writing from the University of California, Irvine in 1980.After graduating from high school in 1965, he enlisted in the Army and served in Vietnam as an information specialist.In addition to covering major combat operations, he wrote a column for the Army newspaper on Vietnamese literature and culture.