Yusef Komunyakaa Poems

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Yusef Komunyakaa
Yusef Komunyakaa (1947- ) is an eminent American poet who currently teaches at New York University and is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Komunyakaa is a recipient of the 1994 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award (for Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems), the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (also for Neon Vernacular), and the 2001 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. His subject matter ranges from the African-American experience through rural Southern life before civil rights and his experience as a soldier during the Vietnam War. He was born and grew up in the small town of Bogalusa, Louisiana before and during the Civil Rights era. He served a tour of Army duty during the Vietnam War, when he acted as a journalist for the military paper, covering major actions, interviewing fellow soldiers and publishing articles on Vietnamese history and literature. Upon his return to the states he turned to poetry, eventually becoming one of the most popular and important American writers of his generation. He was married to the Australian novelist Mandy Sayer for ten years, and was engaged in a long-term relationship with the poet Reetika Vazirani, who killed herself and their child Jehan in 2003.

my father's love letters
On Fridays he'd open a can of Jax
After coming home from the mill,
& ask me to write a let... [read poem]
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