Pulitzer-winning poet, CSU alum Yusef Komunyakaa to accept CLA Alumni Award

Yusef Komunyakaa graduated from the CSU College of Liberal Arts with a masters degree in writing in 1978. The pulitzer-winning author will return to CSU to accept a Distinguished Alumni Award from the College Thursday. (Photo courtesy College of Liberal Arts)
Yusef Komunyakaa graduated from the CSU College of Liberal Arts with a masters degree in writing in 1978. The pulitzer-winning author will return to CSU to accept a Distinguished Alumni Award from the College Thursday. (Photo courtesy College of Liberal Arts)

Poet Yusef Komunyakaa graduated from the CSU College of Liberal Arts in 1978 with a master’s degree in writing after he has previously written poetry at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. 

After a decades-long career that includes winning the Pulitzer prize in 1994, which at the time made him the only African-American to have received the award, Komunyakaa will return to CSU April 21 to accept the Honors Alumni Award from the College of Liberal Arts, where he will also give a public reading of his work. 

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In his poetry, Komunyakaa wrote on his experience as a soldier in the Vietnam war and as his life as a black man in the American South before the civil rights era. His published work has won multiple awards, including the San Francisco Poetry Prize and the Dark Room Poetry Prize. 

Komunyakaa is perhaps most well-known among students as the author of the poem “Facing It“, which uses the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C. to conveythe emotions one feels after a war has ended.

Professor Bill Tremblay, an emeritus professor with the department of english, knew Komunyakaa from his time at CSU, according to a SOURCE article.

“Early on, Yusef was able to make his poetry out of a fusion between music and magic so that it would be a continuous revelation of the powers that spring from human desires and dreams,” Tremblay said in a SOURCE article. “The speakers of his poems are witnesses to the mystery and power of the spirit world, a world of hoodoo and juju, that is alive and working overtime to generate his extraordinary vision.”

 

The event is free to the public, and will take place in the LSC North Ballroom at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Collegian News Editor Erik Petrovich can be reached at news@collegian.com or via Twitter @EAPetrovich.