Yusef Komunyakaa, a Pulitzer Prize-winner for poetry, read from his work on Wednesday, September 30, in the Campus Center Ballroom. Born James Willie Brown in 1947 in Bogalusa, Louisiana, Komunyakaa assumed the name of his grandfather, a Trinidad émigré to the United States. He served in the army from 1969 to 1970 as a correspondent and managing editor of the Southern Cross during the Vietnam War, and earned a Bronze Star. He is the author of numerous books of poems, including Copacetic, Dien Cai Dau, Neon Vernacular, Talking Dirty to the Gods, and Pleasure Dome. His most recent collection, Warhorses, was released by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in September of 2008.
Komunyakaa is widely celebrated for his poems on the Vietnam War, as well as for his writings devoted to, and inspired by, jazz. With Sascha Feinstein, he co-edited The Jazz Poetry Anthology and has collaborated with composers and jazz musicians in many recordings and performances. Aside from winning the Pulitzer Prize for Neon Vernacular, Komunyakaa has also been awarded the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the William Faulkner Prize from the Université de Rennes, the Thomas Forcade Award, the Hanes Poetry Prize, fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Louisiana Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as being named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Komunyakaa has taught at the University of New Orleans, Indiana University, and Princeton University, and is currently Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University’s graduate creative writing program. In 1999, he was elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and was inducted this year into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
The reading was co-sponsored by the Department of English and Philosophy, the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the Office of Institutional Diversity, Ingram Library’s Penelope Melson Society, and the Creative Writing
Program. The coordinators for the event publicized widely and expected anywhere from 400 to 800 people. Best estimates of attendance placed the figure more around the 1300 marker, and many more had to be turned away when the Fire Marshall arrived. Mr. Komunyakaa delivered a fantastic reading to an absolutely packed house, and offered a collection of his newer work alongside canonized favorites such as “Camouflaging the Chimera,” “Thanks,” and “My Father’s Love Letters.” Afterward, he signed copies of his books for nearly three hours. The event was such a huge success that the coordinators have already begun planning a similar event for next fall. The Department of English and Philosophy will announce that event when the specifics are finalized.
Volunteers Needed for Recycling Program
With the beginning of the new academic year, the Departments of English & Philosophy and Computer Science would like to appeal to you to continue our recycling program, a volunteer-based recycling collection and pick-up system that we devised in absence of a university-sponsored recycling program (with the exception of the paper recycling bins, which are only accessible to faculty and staff).
Here's how it works: The collection stations are located in the main hallway between the two departments on the second floor of TLC. We collect paper, cardboard, plastics (#1 and 2 only; no waterfountain cups, please!), and aluminum. Since there is no centralized pick-up, we rely on volunteers to monitor the stations and take the materials to one of the Carroll County Convenience Centers, which are located on Lovvorn Road (closest to campus, next to the new stadium) and Newnan Road (right off the by-pass, past the prison, on your right-hand side). The recycling usually needs to be dropped off only once every two weeks. We put orange bags as liners in the collection stations. If they are clean and not ripped, you can return them to the stations or ask Jonette for new ones.
If you would like to volunteer, please sign up for a two-week period on the calendar in the English & Philosophy break room (TLC 2231).