Yusef Komunyakaa

Johanna Lawshea

Yusef Komunyakaa‘s books of poetry include Neon Vernacular (for which he received the Pulitzer Prize), Talking Dirty to the Gods, Taboo, Warhorses, The Chameleon Couch, and Testimony: A Tribute to Charlie Parker. His plays, performance art, and libretti have been performed internationally and include Wakonda’s Dream, Saturnalia, Testimony, and Gilgamesh (a verse play). In The Emperor of Water Clocks (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Komunyakaa’s brings his jazz-inflected rhythms and his effortlessly surreal images to this celebration of natural beauty and of love. There is also his insistent inquiry into the structures and struggles of power: not only of, say, king against jester but of man against his own desire and of the present against the pernicious influence of the past. David Wojahn has called Komunyakaa one of our “most significant and individual voices…”