Yusef Komunyakaa American Literature Analysis
To Komunyakaa, the poem is a mechanism for self-discovery, a means by which both the poet and the reader can probe the outer layers of any experience with the intention of arriving at some core meaning. Indeed, much of Komunyakaa’s work focuses on this desire to get at the heart of the matter, whether it is who humans are or where they find themselves at any given moment in their lives.
At the beginning of his poetic career, Komunyakaa’s vision was rooted most often in his race and gender, but even in his earliest work, there is evidence of his desire to incorporate the perspectives of other people. This tendency to seek the universal expanded over time as Komunyakaa studied and traveled. Indeed, the poet’s evolving vision became increasingly marked by a rich interplay of past and present, of the history and culture of the United States and those of other lands.
Very often Komunyakaa’s poetic inquiries into the nature of identity and experience are retrospective. His poems about his formative years in the segregated South and his young adulthood set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War are explorations in hindsight, written many years after the actual events described. Such a retrospective approach allows the blood to cool and the poet to achieve the necessary aesthetic distance and psychological space between the present moment of composition and the original inciting incident, such as the emotional trauma of racism or the violence...
(The entire section is 2106 words.)
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