Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, who served in the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War, was named one of five finalists for the 2011 National Book Award in Poetry for his latest collection, The Chameleon Couch. “As in his breakthrough work, Copacetic, Komunyakaa writes again of music as muse—from a blues club in the East Village to the shakuhachi of Basho,” the official announcement of the awards said.
“Beginning with ‘Canticle,’ this varied new collection often returns to the idea of poem as hymn, ethereal and haunting, as Komunyakaa reveals glimpses of memory, myth, and violence. With contemplations that spring up along walks or memories conjured by the rhythms of New York, Komunyakaa pays tribute more than ever before to those who came before him.”
Komunyakaam, who was a journalist for Army newspaper, The Southern Cross, during his 1969-70 Vietnam War tour, has published thirteen volumes of poetry, including Dien Cai Dau (1988) and Neon Vernacular (1994), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He holds the title of Distinguished Senior Poet and Professor in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University is a former member of the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.