Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa will join the Trias Reading Series on Thursday, April 12. Komunyakaa will speak of his experience growing up in the South during the Civil Rights Movement, and read selections of his poetry at 7:30 p.m. in the Hirshson Ballroom.
Renowned as a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, Komunyakaa is one of the most influential poets currently writing in the United States. Combining his childhood growing up in the South with his experiences as a soldier in the Vietnam War, Komunyakaa’s verse is a powerful examination of the black experience infused with jazz rhythms, syncopation and vivid imagery.
Komunyakaa was born in Bogalusa, La. in 1947, growing up at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. He served in U.S. Army from 1969-70 as a correspondent and as managing editor of the Southern Cross during the Vietnam War, earning him a Bronze Star. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado Springs in 1975, and his first book of poems, “Dedications & Other Darkhorses,” was published shortly after in 1977. Following its publishing, he earned his MA and MFA in creative writing from Colorado State University and the University of California Irvine, respectively.
Komunyakaa has published more than a dozen collections of poems, and has been included in several volumes of selected poetry – and has been the editor and co-editor of several poetry anthologies. He is the winner of numerous awards including the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Louisiana Writer Award, San Francisco Poetry Center Award, the Dark Room Poetry Prize, the 2011 Wallace Stevens Award, the William Faulkner Prize from the Université de Rennes, the Thomas Forcade Award, and the Hanes Poetry Prize.
He has also written dramatic works including, “Gilgamesh: A Verse Play,” and “Slip Knot,” a libretto in collaboration with Composer T. J. Anderson and commissioned by Northwestern University. Komunyakaa has taught at University of New Orleans, Indiana University as a professor in the Council of Humanities, and as an instructor in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University. He lives in New York City where he is currently Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University’s graduate creative writing program.
The Trias Residency Reading Series is supported by The Peter Trias Endowed Fund for Poetry and Creative Writing. This valuable fund was established through a generous bequest from Peter J. Trias ’70.