Yusef Komunyakaa — American Poet born on April 29, 1947,

Yusef Komunyakaa is an American poet who teaches at New York University and is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Komunyakaa is a recipient of the 1994 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, for Neon Vernacular and the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He also received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Komunyakaa received the 2007 Louisiana Writer Award for his enduring contribution to the poetry world... (wikipedia)

I define poetry as celebration and confrontation. When we witness something, are we responsible for what we witness? That's an on-going existential question. Perhaps we are and perhaps there's a kind of daring, a kind of necessary energetic questioning. Because often I say it's not what we know, it's what we can risk discovering.
We have to embrace the good over the bad. That has to be one's personal project.
My great-grandfather Melvin had been a carpenter - so was my father - and they taught me the value of tools: saws, hammers, chisels, files and rulers. It all dealt with conciseness and precision. It eliminated guesswork. One has to know his tools, so he doesn't work against himself.
Students often have such a lofty idea of what a poem is, and I want them to realize that their own lives are where the poetry comes from. The most important things are to respect the language; to know the classical rules, even if only to break them; and to be prepared to edit, to revise, to shape.
I originally wanted to embrace the imagery and forthrightness of rap music. There are some interesting, dynamic voices in rap. But I find most of it irresponsible in its overt violence and commercialization of anger. As artists, we believe we can will action through language. If that's the case, we have to take responsibility for what we say.

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