Saturday, April 28, 2018

Y is for Yusef Komunyakaa: Revealing a deeper layer

For those who haven't played along before, the AtoZ Blogging Challenge asks bloggers to post every day during April (excepting Sundays), which works out to 26 days, one for each letter of the alphabet. In my opinion, it's the most fun if you choose a theme.

This will be my 5th year participating.
My theme this year is Poets I Love all about some of the poets whose work has touched me over the years.

For my regular readers, you'll see more than the usual once-a-week posts from me this month. I'm having a great time writing them, so I hope you enjoy reading them, too. Be sure to check out some of the other bloggers stretching their limits this month to share their passions with you, too. With over 600 participants, there is bound to be something you'd love to read.

Most of the Yusef Komunyakaa poems I've read are intensely personal. Through his verses, I've learned more about his childhood, his war experiences, and his joys and disappointments than I know about people that I see every day in real life. In each poem, the speaker is there, front and center, no distancing, letting me know what has happened and how he is affected. And I, in reading the lines, am affected, too. 

Here's one of his poems, about visiting the Vietnam War Memorial, an intensely emotional experience for many, but I can only imagine how intense it must be for a veteran of that war.

On the surface, Komunyakaa is only describing what he sees: what is and isn't reflected in the glossy stone of the memorial, but the still-biting experiences are in there, too in the word choices, the descriptive details. Hiding. Reflection. Bird of prey. Profile of night. Depending on the light/to make a difference. Flash. Smoke. Cutting. Lost his right arm. 

There's a second poem in those details, giving you the ghostly after-image of his service experience. That deeper layer that pushes forward, almost feeling like he let it slip by accident and revealed more than he meant to. 


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