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WRITER: JENNY BURMAN
CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
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Iowa City IA 52242
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Release: Immediate

(NOTE TO BROADCASTERS: Komunyakaa is pronounced: koh-mun-YAH-kuh.)

Poet Yusef Komunyakaa, a Pulitzer Prize winner, will give reading

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa will read from his work at 8 p.m., Saturday, April 11 at Room 101 of the Becker Communication Studies Building on the University of Iowa campus.

The reading, which is sponsored by the Iowa Writers' Workshop, is free and open to the public.

Komunyakaa is known for a style that combines deeply personal images with seemingly effortless presentation. He also has gained a reputation as one of the finest writers -- in prose or poetry -- on the subject of the Vietnam war. In much of his work he creates complex images of his childhood in Louisiana as well as the jungles of Vietnam.

Kirkland C. Jones writes of the poet's collection "Dien Cai Dau" (the title means "crazy" in Vietnamese and was used to refer to American soldiers): "Komunyakaa's Vietnam poems rank with the best on that subject. He focuses on the mental horrors of war -- the anguish shared by the soldiers, those left at home to keep watch, and other observers, participants, objectors, who are all part of the psychological terrain."

The poems in "Dien Cai Dau" also explore issues of race and sex. Wayne Koestenbaum writes in the New York Times Books Review: "Komunyakaa writes sensitively about the difficulties of being a black American soldier fighting alongside white men and of American servicemen's sexual relations with Vietnamese women."

Komunyakaa's collection "Neon Vernacular" won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994. The Harvard Review calls it "a vibrant look into another sense of memory and language, of history, both personal and global."

Marilyn Hacker writes in the Nation: "'Neon Vernacular' includes some of the best Vietnam testimony, in verse or prose, that I have ever read. Komunyakaa's whole oeuvre explores and remembers the double consciousness at work in the construction of African-American male identity."

Komunyakaa' is also the author of the highly praised collections "Lost in the Bonewheel Factory," "Magic City" and "I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head," among others. A Bronze Star recipient, he served in Vietnam as editor and correspondent for Southern Cross. He has received the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award as well as the Pulitzer. Komunyakaa currently is professor of English and African American Studies at Indiana University and has been Holloway Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley.

3/27/98