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," ...
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.
Publishers Weekly, 2008-10-20 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.
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