WRITER: JENNY BURMAN
CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
(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,