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Poetry and the African American Read-In: Yusef Komunyakaa

During the month of February (and beyond!) we shine the spotlight on texts written by African American authors. This month, we will look at poets and their works.

Yusef Komunyakaa was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana in 1947. His upbringing in the racially charged South and his tour in Vietnam in the 1970s prove to be the focal points of much of his poetry, full of vivid and devastating imagery.

Yusef Komunyakaa is the winner of a Pulitzer Prize.

Read one of Yusef Komunyakaa’s poems, “Punchdrunk” that was published in College English.

Classroom activities tied to the works of Yusef Komunyakaa can be found on ReadWriteThink.org.

Watch this video of Yusef Komunyakaa reading some of this works.

Yusef Komunyakaa’s poems are rooted in his experiences as an African American growing up in rural Louisiana and his service in the Vietnam War. He was also influenced by jazz music and by people’s everyday speech.

How do you tie music and poetry together in your classroom?