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Yusef Komunyakaa, whose birth name was James William Brown, Jr., is a Pulitzer Prize–winning American poet and professor most known for his autobiographical poetry on racism, the Vietnam War, and jazz and blues. He was born on April 29, 1947, in Bogalusa, Louisiana, in the United States. On the edge of the civil rights movement, Komunyakaa was born in the very traditional South in a rural setting.
His father was a carpenter and a strong proponent of the moral importance of physical labor. However, he was illiterate, and raising a kid naturally attracted to books was difficult for him. Komunyakaa read the Bible, encyclopedias that were bought for him by his mother, and James Baldwin’s Nobody Knows My Name, a book he borrowed several times from a local church library. This is because the public library in Bogalusa, Louisiana, would not allow African Americans to use its facilities.
In addition, he was a huge fan of listening to jazz and blues on the radio, and he believed that this activity gave him the foundation he needed for his sense of rhythm when he was writing poetry later on. He officially changed his name to Komunyakaa to pay homage to his grandpa from the West Indies, who, according to family lore, had landed in the United States as a stowaway on a ship. He did this in honor of his grandfather. In 1969, Komunyakaa joined the United States Army as a recruit. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his work as a combat journalist for The Southern Cross, a military newspaper stationed in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970. He eventually became an editor for the publication.
WHEN HE RETURNED HOME FROM SERVICE, the G.I. Bill enabled Komunyakaa to pursue his education at the University of Colorado. During a course in creative writing, he started composing poems and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1975. After that, he earned a master’s degree in business administration from Colorado State University in 1978 and a master’s in creative arts from the University of California, Irvine, in 1980.
He published his first two chapbooks, Dedications & Other Darkhorses (1977) and Lost in the Bonewheel Factory (1979), while still a student. In 1984, he released his first book of poetry with a commercial publisher. The book was titled Copacetic, a collection of autobiographical poems. For these poems, he relied on his childhood memories of living in the rural South and the deeply ingrained jazz and blues traditions in New Orleans. The following year, Komunyakaa started working as an English professor at Indiana University Bloomington, a job he maintained until 1996.
I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head (1986), his second collection of poetry, likewise dealt with life in the Deep South during the Jim Crow era and contained oblique references to the author’s service in the war.Komunyakaa served as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 to 2005. In 2006, he was appointed Distinguished Senior Poet (after worldwide Distinguished Professor of English) in the creative writing department at New York University.
He passed away in 2015. In addition to teaching and writing, Komunyakaa collaborated on several musical projects. He wrote librettos for the opera Slip Knot (2003), which was based on the historical testament of an enslaved African American man wrongly hanged for raping a white woman, and The Reincarnated Beethoven, which was based on a newspaper article about the self-image of a black teenager. These operas were written in collaboration with the composer T.J. Anderson.
Additionally, Komunyakaa worked with the composer Anthony Davis on producing the opera Wakonda’s Dream (2007). This work examines the difficulties that Native Americans are facing in the 21st century. The epic narrative of Gilgamesh, ruler of Uruk (Erech), was reworked by him and published as Gilgamesh: A Verse Play in 2006.
Dien Cai Dau, which Komunyakaa published in 1988, was the book that launched her to critical acclaim. The poems included in that anthology were his first to address the events he had while serving in Vietnam. The Vietnamese often used the term “crazy” to refer to American service members because of their actions during the war. The title of this book comes from that term. In his writing, he discussed the difficulties that arose when black and white troops fought. Additionally, he investigated the sexual encounters between Vietnamese women and American servicemen.
His collection of poetry titled Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poetry 1977–1989 (1993) was awarded the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, presented annually by Claremont Graduate University, to a collection written by a poet in the middle of their career. It was released in 1994 and won the Pulitzer Prize. The poet’s lifelong fascination with jazz and blues, his upbringing spent in the South, and his military service in Vietnam are all explored in the poems that are collected in that anthology. The critics praised Komunyakaa’s mastery of the short-lined poetry and his cadence, which seemed to be easy. After Neon Vernacular, he published Thieves of Paradise in 1998, a nominee for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and had a lengthy poem named “Testimony” dedicated to the jazz musician Charlie Parker.
It was released in 1994 and won the Pulitzer Prize. The poet’s lifelong fascination with jazz and blues, his upbringing spent in the South, and his military service in Vietnam are all explored in the poems that are collected in that anthology. The critics praised Komunyakaa’s mastery of the short-lined poetry and his cadence, which seemed to be easy.
After Neon Vernacular, he published Thieves of Paradise in 1998, which was a nominee for the National Book Critics Circle Award and had a lengthy poem named “Testimony” that was dedicated to the jazz musician Charlie Parker. Sandy Evans, an Australian saxophonist, was the one who adapted the poetry to music, and it was premiered in the Sydney Opera House in 2002 by the Australian Art Orchestra and 11 vocalists. Other notable works by Komunyakaa that have been published include the anthology Blue Notes: Essays, Interviews, and Commentaries (2000) and several collections of poetry, including Talking Dirty to the Gods (2000), Pleasure Dom.
New and Collected Poems (2001), Taboo (2004), Warhorses (2008), The Chameleon Couch (2011), and The Emperor of Water Clocks (2015). A book and audio CD titled Testimony, A Tribute to Charlie Parker: With New and Selected Jazz Poems (2013) was also released under his name. He was the editor of both The Jazz Poetry Anthology (vol. 1, 1991 and vol. 2, 1996; co-edited with Sascha Feinstein) and The Best American Poetry, published in 2003. The Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize (given out in 2001), the Shelley Memorial Award (given out in 2004), and the Wallace Stevens Award (given out in 2011) are just a few of the numerous prizes that have been bestowed upon Komunyakaa over his career.
|Yusef Komunyakaa Phone Number, Fanmail Address, Email Id and Contact Details
|House address (Residence address)
|Bogalusa, Louisiana, United States
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Yusef Komunyakaa Phone Number 2023- This post contains a phone number, house address, and Fan mailing address to request autographs and send fan mail letters to Yusef Komunyakaa. If you want to get an autograph from Yusef Komunyakaa, you can send your handwritten letter to the above address (with a size of 8.5 x 4 inches.) Please wait up to 3 months. If there is no reply, resend your letter or exchange it with another address.
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