Yusef Komunyakaa

Yusef Komunyakaa, professor and distinguished senior poet at New York University, was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana, in 1947. His numerous books of poems include Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975–1999 (Wesleyan University Press, 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; Magic City (1992); Dien Cai Dau (1988), which won The Dark Room Poetry Prize; I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head (1986), winner of the San Francisco Poetry Center Award; and Copacetic (1984). Komunyakaa’s prose is collected in Blues Notes: Essays, Interviews & Commentaries (University of Michigan Press, 2000). Komunyakaa also co-edited The Jazz Poetry Anthology (with J. A. Sascha Feinstein, 1991) and co-translated The Insomnia of Fire by Nguyen Quang Thieu (with Martha Collins, 1995). His 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, and the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam, where he served as a correspondent and managing editor of The Southern Cross. From 1999 to 2005, he served as a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets. Professor Komunyakaa's most recent book is Gilgamesh, a verse play (concept and dramaturgy by Chad Gracia; Wesleyan University Press, 2006).

Source: University Programs and Events Planning Resources, 09/07