Revised September 9, 2013
Distinguished Poet Yusef Komunyakaa to Read at Smith
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Smith College will present a reading by distinguished poet Yusef Komunyakaa at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, in Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall. The event is free and open to the public.
Komunyakaa has said that the gift of the poet is to see behind things. In 17 acclaimed collections, he has done just that, leading us through the richly peopled landscapes of many worlds and across moments in time, interweaving history and myth, surrealistic imagery, montage and folk idiom.
Born in Bogalusa, La., in 1947, Komunyakaa was raised at the start of the civil rights movement. From 1969 to 1970, he served in Vietnam as a correspondent and managing editor for the military newspaper Southern Cross. In poems that can be at once broad and spare, global in scope and achingly personal, Komunyakaa turns away from simple answers, embracing the full complexity of human experience.
Komunyakaa’s many awards include the Ruth Lilly Prize, the Wallace Stevens Award, the William Faulkner Prize and the Pulitzer Prize for “Neon Vernacular.” In addition to his poetry collections, he has co-translated “The Insomnia of Fire” by Nguyen Quang Thieu and published “Blues Notes: Essays, Interviews & Commentaries”; and his plays, performance art, and libretti have been performed internationally. A former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Komunyakaa has taught at the University of New Orleans, Indiana University and Princeton University. Currently, he lives in New York City where he teaches as the Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University’s graduate creative writing program.
This reading is supported by the departments of Afro-American Studies, American Studies and English Language and Literature and will be followed by a book sale and signing. For further information, contact Jennifer Blackburn at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson, director of the Smith College Poetry Center, at (413) 585-3368.
For disability access information or to request accommodations, call (413) 585-2407. To request a sign language interpreter specifically, call (413) 585-2071 (voice or TTY) or email ODS@smith.edu. All requests must be made at least 10 days prior to the event.