Poet, Veteran, Man of Culture
- Born April 29, 1947 in Bogalusa, Louisiana
- Child during Jim Crow era
- Served in US Army as correspondent and editor During Vietnam War
- Read a lot of Shakespeare and E.A. Poe
- First introduced to black literature in highschool
- Lived in Colorado, Puerto Rico, Panama, Phoenix and Australia
- One daughter, Kimberly Ann
Inspirations and Themes
- Personal experiences/ childhood
- Personal identity
- Cultural identity
- Poetry often has a jazzy "tune"
- Many poems describe personal experiences in Vietnam
- Some poems are inspired by African culture "Ode to the Drum"
- Most famous poems include "Mismatched Shoes", "Ode tot he Maggot", and "My Father's Love Letters"
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't,
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way--the stone lets me go.
I turn that way--I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap's white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I'm a window.
He's lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman's trying to erase names:
No, she's brushing a boy's hair.
"Does poetry posess any power to affect the political sphere?"
Gotera, Vince. "Yusef Komunyakaa." The Scribner Writer Series African American Writers. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2001. 489-504. Print.
Jones, Paul, ed. Internet Poetry Archive. UNC Press, 2006. Web. 4 Apr. 2015.
Komunyakaa, Yusef. Thieves of Paradise. Hanover: Wesleyan UP ;, 1998. Print.
Marshall, Tod. "Yusef Komunyakaa." Range of the Possibilities. Spokane: Eastern Washington UP, 2002. 146-56. Print.
"Yusef Komunyakaa." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.