For Immediate Release
Woodstock Poetry Society & Festival Presents:
Saturday, October 17th, 2009 at 7:30pm
Kleinert/James Arts Center
34 Tinker Street, Woodstock, NY
available at Golden Notebook, Phoenicia Pharmacy
and online here:
Yusef Komunyakaa was born in 1947 in Bogalusa, Louisiana, where he was raised during the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. He served in the United States Army from 1969 to 1970 as a correspondent and managing editor of the Southern Cross during the Vietnam war, earning him a Bronze Star. He began writing poetry in 1973, and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado Springs in 1975. His first book of poems, Dedications & Other Darkhorses, was published in 1977, followed by Lost in the Bonewheel Factory in 1979. During this time, he earned his M.A. and M.F.A. in creative writing from Colorado State University and the University of California, Irvine, respectively.
Komunyakaa first received wide recognition following the 1984 publication of Copacetic, a collection of poems built from colloquial speech which demonstrated his incorporation of jazz influences. He followed the book with two others: I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head (1986), winner of the San Francisco Poetry Center Award; and Dien Cai Dau (1988), which has been cited for by poets such as William Matthews and Robert Hass as being among the best writing on the war in Vietnam. Since then, he has published several books of poems, including Warhorses (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008); Taboo: The Wishbone Trilogy, Part 1; Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975-1999 (2001); Talking Dirty to the Gods (2000); Thieves of Paradise (1998), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977–1989 (1994), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; and Magic City (1992).
Komunyakaa's honors include the William Faulkner Prize from the Université de Rennes, the Thomas Forcade Award, the Hanes Poetry Prize, fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Louisiana Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 1999. He lives in New York City where he is currently Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University’s graduate creative writing program.