Yusef Komunyakaa

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Yusef KomunyakaaYusef Komunyakaa was born in Louisiana and grew up during the Civil Rights Movement. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his service as a United States Army correspondent. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Neon Vernacular (1993). He has published eleven books of poetry, a prose collection, Blue Notes, a dramatic work, Gilgamesh: A Verse Play, and Slip Knot, a libretto. He is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and Distinguished Senior Poet at New York University’s creative writing program.



If you’re one of seven
Downfalls, up in your kingdom
Of mulberry leaves, there are men
Betting you aren’t worth a bullet,

That your skin won’t tan into a good
Wallet. As if drugged in the womb
& limboed in a honeyed languor,
By the time you open your eyes

A thousand species have lived
& died. Born on a Sunday
Morning, with old-world algae
In your long hair, a goodness

Disguised your two-toed claws
Bright as flensing knives. In this
Upside-down haven, you’re reincarnated
As a fallen angel trying to go home.


  • Interview with Dana Isokawa. Washington Square Review. Spring 2014.
  • Facing It. Poetry Everywhere. PBS. 2011.


Reading | March 14, 2007

CRY HAVOC! Poetry of War and Remembrance 1968-2008 | March 31, 2009
SYMPOSIUM III: War and Remembrance: Surviving with Language and Memory

CRY HAVOC! Poetry of War and Remembrance 1968-2008 | March 31, 2009
Reading: War and Remembrance: Poetry of War and Memory, 1968- 2008