Furious Flower

Yusef Komunyakaa - reading and book signing

Fri, 23 Jun 2017 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Highlands Room

During the week of June 18–24, 2017, JMU hosts Pulitzer-prize winner Yusef Komunyakaa as its featured poet during Furious Flower’s Legacy Seminar, “Facing It: The Poetry of Yusef Komunyakaa." This reading and book signing are free and open to the public. Join us! We suggest you arrive early to secure a seat.

Yusef Komunyakaa (portraits)

About the poet: Born in 1947 in Bogalusa, Louisiana, Yusef Komunyakaa is a son of the South. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, an experience that infused his creative career. Since writing his first poem in 1975, Komunyakaa has published nearly 20 books, including fourteen collections of poetry, anthologies he’s edited, a collection of prose writing, a translated volume, and two dramatic works. He has been awarded many major prizes, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (1994), Kingsley Tufts Award (1994), William Faulkner Prize (1994), National Book Critics Circle Award (Shortlist, 1998), two Creative Writing Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1981, 1987), The Thomas Forcade Award (1991), The Hanes Poetry Prize (1997), Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets (1999), The Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1998), The Wallace Stevens Award (2011), and others.

“The most permanent thing about the voice is the language it leaves behind—images so real they are like ripe fruit in the mouth.” —Toi Derricotte on Komunyakaa’s work

Komunyakaa’s style, known for its musicality, muscularity, and fine attention to craft, produces a poetics of witness—of clear-sighted, unflinching seeing—that compels readers to locate themselves solidly in the moment of the poem, whether it details the ordinary movements of daily life, reenters the otherworld of mythology, or recounts the harrowing details of life in combat.

Over four decades, Komunyakaa has created a robust, varied, and complex body of work. His poems have been the subject of numerous critical articles and essays, and his collections have been reviewed in illustrious publications such as the New York Times, Poetry Magazine, Village Voice, and The Bloomsbury Review. His poems have also been translated into several languages, including Italian, Czech, Portuguese, and Spanish. Thus, Komunyakaa is a poet of not only national but also international import, and he is truly an American poetic legacy.

Guests do not need a permit to park in Lots C11, C12, and D3. All parking regulations for JMU students, faculty and staff will remain in effect, and students attending the event are required to park in appropriate student parking lots with a JMU parking permit.

Regular enforcement will continue in other parking lots, and you may receive a parking citation if parked in restricted lots. Parking is prohibited in specialty spaces such as Service Vehicle spaces, handicap spaces without proper permit, or expired meters. Parking is also prohibited in Fire Lanes.

The image (above right) is a portrait of Yusef Komunyakaa by Malaika Favorite, one panel from the massive “Quilt Portrait” commissioned by Joanne Gabbin for the 2004 Furious Flower Poetry Conference. Used with permission, courtesy Joanne and Alexander Gabbin.

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