Athens, Ga. – Internationally-renowned poet Yusef Komunyakaa will read from his work on Thursday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Ramsey Concert Hall at the University of Georgia Performing Arts Center. The reading will include a musical performance by bassist Booker King and vocalist/guitarist Tomás Doncker whose recent album, The Mercy Suite, was co-written by Komunyakaa. The event is sponsored by the President’s Venture Fund, the UGA Department of English and the Creative Writing Program and is free and open to the public.
Komunyakaa is Distinguished Senior Poet at New York University and is the author of numerous books including Warhorses (2008); Taboo: The Wishbone Trilogy, Part 1 (2004); Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975-1999 (2001); Talking Dirty to the Gods (2000); Thieves of Paradise (1998), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Neon Vernacular: New & Selected Poems 1977-1989 (1993), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Magic City (1992); Dien Cai Dau (1988), which won The Dark Room Poetry Prize; I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head (1986), winner of the San Francisco Poetry Center Award; and Copacetic (1984). Selected prose and interviews appear in Blues Notes: Essays, Interviews & Commentaries (University of Michigan Press, 2000). He also co-edited, with J. A. Sascha Feinstein, The Second Set: The Jazz Poetry Anthology, Volume 2 (1996) and co-translated, with Martha Collins, The Insomnia of Fire, by Nguyen Quang Thieu (1995).
Honors and awards for Komunyakaa include the William Faulkner Prize from the Université de Rennes, the Thomas Forcade Award and the Hanes Poetry Prize as well as fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Louisiana Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. He received a Bronze Star for military service in Vietnam, where he served as a correspondent and managing editor of the Southern Cross. In 1999, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Komunyakaa “takes on the most complex moral issues, the most harrowing ugly subjects of our American life,” says Poet Toi Derricotte, writing for the Kenyon Review. “His voice, whether it embodies the specific experiences of a black man, a soldier in Vietnam, or a child in Bogalusa, Louisiana, is universal. It shows us in ever deeper ways what it is to be human.”
According to Ed Pavlíc, director of the Creative Writing Program at UGA, “Komunyakaa is arguably the most important and accomplished living African-American writer.”
King’s recording and performance credits include work with Carlos Santana, Corey Glover and Jane Siberry. Doncker is a singer, songwriter, producer and guitarist whose twenty-year career includes work with recording artists Bootsy Collins, MeShell Ndegeocello, Ivan Neville and Bonnie Raitt.