Yusef Komunyakaa with bibliography

Essay by princexaviarJunior High, 9th gradeA+, February 2006

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I searched through the list of authors we had been given, and chose Komunyakaa after reading through the names of available authors. I went on to Google, and searched for information about him. I opened the first website on the list, and was pleasantly surprised by the interestingly bizarre poems written by Komunyakaa, such as "You and I are Disappearing", "Ode to the Maggot", and "Camouflaging the Chimera". Reading through his poems, I found that, unlike most poets, the words in his title are never mentioned in his poems. Reading his poems, you would never guess what the names of his poems were; for some poems, the title seems completely irrelevant to the poem itself. It is a challenge to interpret his work, and that's the reason I like it.

Yusef Komunyakaa was born on April 29th, 1947 in Bogalusa, Louisiana. He was the oldest of five children. He grew up near the jazz and blues center of New Orleans, which later became an important influence on his poetry.

Later in his life, he served in the Vietnam War, another important influence. While there, he started writing, some time between 1969 and 1970. He became a correspondent and editor of the military newspaper, The Southern Cross. While reporting for the paper, he created a writing style that he would later use in his poems to objectively assess his time spent engaged in warfare. For his contributions to the paper, he was awarded the military Bronze Star. After leaving the army in the early 1970s, Komunyakaa enrolled at the University of Colorado, and received a bachelor's degree in 1975. While studying in Colorado, he exercised his abilities as a poet in a creative writing workshop. The workshop was the first chance he had to write for himself. Even though he...