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Warhorses
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This powerful collection of Yusef Komunyakaa's poetry delves, with his characteristic allusiveness, intelligence, and intensity, into an age of war and conflict, both global and internal, racial and sexual. "Sweetheart, was I talking war in my sleep / again?" he asks, and the question is hardly moot: "Sometimes I hold you like Achilles' / shield," and indeed all relationships, in this telling, are sites of violence and battle. His line is longer and looser than in "Taboo "or "Talking Dirty to the Gods," and in long poems like "Autobiography of My Alter Ego" he sounds almost breathless, an exhausted but

desperate prophet. With the leaps and improvisational flourishes of a jazz soloist, Komunyakaa imagines "the old masters of Shock & Awe" daydreaming of "lovely Penelope / like a trophy." "Warhorses "is the stunning work of a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who never ceases to challenge and delight his readers.

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About the Author

Yusef Komunyakaa's twelve books of poems include Taboo (FSG, 2004) and Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize. He teaches at Princeton University.

Reviews

The author of numerous volumes and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, Komunyakaa (Neon Vernacular) is among the most prominent contemporary poets writing in English. The poems that comprise his new collection provide an astonishingly panoramic view of the totality of war. Its first section is a series of loose sonnets written about battles and conflicts, which take on an added note of irony when we consider that many of the earliest sonnets were love poems. Poems of the second section treat the very implements of war, those things that rely on human agency to animate them. Here we find poems about helmets and catapults (the tools of combat), poems on opium poppies (which finance armed conflict), and even a poem that considers Picasso's famous painting Guernica. But it is the final section, in which Vietnam veteran Komunyakaa writes the story of his alter ego, a split self who was born, grew up, went to war and emerged, that is perhaps this book's finest achievement. Strongly recommended for public and academic libraries.--Chris Pusateri, Jefferson Cty. P.L., Lakewood, CO Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

Komunyakaa (Taboo) achieved his genuine national eminence with poems about his service in the Vietnam War and about the African-American culture of the rural South; his recent work has turned his spare, bluesy inflections to subjects from world history and myth. This strong, often harrowing 14th collection brings his own memories and his global aspirations together through the grim lens of current events, especially the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pulitzer-winner Komunyakaa opens with sonnets about conquests ancient and modern, fought on horseback or with "bullets & grenades." Poems in the center of the volume continue the sad look at warriors, victims and international conflict throughout history, from "the Cossack gunner// trying to light the cannon fuse" to a careful poem whose shape imitates the twin towers. The most ambitious, longest and least guarded poem comes last: "Autobiography of my Alter Ego" is a "confessional" poem spoken by a fictional Vietnam veteran: a bartender "at the Chimera Club/ for twenty-some-odd years," this "alter ego" delivers, in syncopated two-part lines, a clutch of profound statements about America, history, memory, guilt and experience that are at once personal and national. Late in the sequence, the poem considers Abu Ghraib: "here's the skin/ growing over a wound,/ & this is flesh interrogating a stone." (Oct.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"[Komunyakaa] call[s] to mind Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman-- the private gaze and the civic drum, purifying language, purifying history." --Darryl Lorenzo Wellington, The Washington Post Book World "Verses that practically sizzle and spark with intelligence . . . Komunyakaa thinks like a scholar and writes like a jazz musician. His poems wail and swing to the backbeat of African-American history, dropping knowledge with a wink and a nod to let you know, yes, this man knows a thing or two about what he's talking about." --John Freeman, The Philadelphia Inquirer "Yusef Komunyakaa is . . . one of our period's most significant and individual voices . . . He has a near-revelatory capacity to give himself over to his subject matter and to the taut concision of his free verse . . . Dazzling." --David Wojahn, Poetry "[Warhorses ] is galvanizing in its fury and decisive in its rare power . . . Komunyakaa crafts metaphors and images of shocking precision and startling intensity." --Donna Seaman, Booklist [Komunyakaa] call[s] to mind Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman-- the private gaze and the civic drum, purifying language, purifying history. "Darryl Lorenzo Wellington, The Washington Post Book World" Verses that practically sizzle and spark with intelligence . . . Komunyakaa thinks like a scholar and writes like a jazz musician. His poems wail and swing to the backbeat of African-American history, dropping knowledge with a wink and a nod to let you know, yes, this man knows a thing or two about what he's talking about. "John Freeman, The Philadelphia Inquirer" Yusef Komunyakaa is . . . one of our period's most significant and individual voices . . . He has a near-revelatory capacity to give himself over to his subject matter and to the taut concision of his free verse . . . Dazzling. "David Wojahn, Poetry" [Warhorses ] is galvanizing in its fury and decisive in its rare power . . . Komunyakaa crafts metaphors and images of shocking precision and startling intensity. "Donna Seaman, Booklist"" Praise for Yusef Komunyakaa "[Komunyakaa] call[s] to mind Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman-- the private gaze and the civic drum, purifying language, purifying history."--Darryl Lorenzo Wellington, "The Washington Post Book World" "Verses that practically sizzle and spark with intelligence . . . Komunyakaa thinks like a scholar and writes like a jazz musician. His poems wail and swing to the backbeat of African-American history, dropping knowledge with a wink and a nod to let you know, yes, this man knows a thing or two about what he's talking about."--John Freeman, "The Philadelphia Inquirer" "Yusef Komunyakaa is . . . one of our period's most significant and individual voices . . . He has a near-revelatory capacity to give himself over to his subject matter and to the taut concision of his free verse . . . Dazzling."--David Wojahn, "Poetry" "[Warhorses ] is galvanizing in its fury and decisive in its rare power . . . Komunyakaa crafts metaphors and images of shocking precision and startling intensity."--Donna Seaman, "Booklist" Praise for Yusef Komunyakaa "[Komunyakaa] call[s] to mind Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman- the private gaze and the civic drum, purifying language, purifying history."-Darryl Lorenzo Wellington, "The Washington Post Book World" "Verses that practically sizzle and spark with intelligence . . . Komunyakaa thinks like a scholar and writes like a jazz musician. His poems wail and swing to the backbeat of African-American history, dropping knowledge with a wink and a nod to let you know, yes, this man knows a thing or two about what he's talking about."-John Freeman, "The Philadelphia Inquirer" "Yusef Komunyakaa is . . . one of our period's most significant and individual voices . . . He has a near-revelatory capacity to give himself over to his subject matter and to the taut concision of his free verse . . . Dazzling."-David Wojahn, "Poetry" "[Warhorses ] is galvanizing in its fury and decisive in its

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