Yusef Komunyakaa

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Nine volumes of poetry, two Anthologies, several works of prose, a Pulitzer prize, and 8 other various prizes and awards from prestigious foundations. He was compared to poets such as T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, and Langston Hughes. You may ask, who am I talking about. Yusef Komunyakaa.

Born on April 29, 1947, in Bogalusa, Louisiana, Yusef Komunyakaa is the oldest of 5 children. Komunyakaa is a very culture oriented poet. He is known by his short lines, simple diction, jazzy rhythm and feel, and his rootedness in past experiences of growing up in the American South and being a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War.

He uses such childhood experiences to enhance many of his works with family relationships, the maturation of a community growing up in the South, and the jazz music of New Orleans. Those are fundamental themes to his various volumes of poetry.

At the age of 18, Komunyakaa enlisted in the United States Army to start his tour of duty in Vietnam. He was assigned to be a correspondent and editor of the military newspaper, called the The Southern Cross. This is where Komunyakaa got his first start in writing. Working with the newspaper helped him to sharpen his skills as a journalist which he applied to many of the poems he wrote about the war. Due to his excellent work with the newspaper, he was awarded the Bronze Star. After returning home in 1970, Komunyakaa enrolled at the University of Colorado, where he received his Bachelors in Arts four years later. Through his participation in various workshops he was able to finally write about himself for once. Even with his passion for literature and poetry, he had been unsuccessful in his past attempts to write short stories. While studying to get his Masters at Colorado State in 1980, Komunyakaa met poet Bill Tremblay in the graduate writing program. That same year, he was introduced to and joined the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. This helped Komunyakaa to begin focusing himself more...
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