Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems / Edition 1

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Best known for Neon Vernacular, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1994, and for Dien Cai Dau, a collection of poems chronicling his experiences as a journalist in Vietnam, Yusef Komunyakaa has become one of America’s most compelling poets. Pleasure Dome gathers the poems in these two distinguished books and five others—over two and a half decades of Komunyakaa’s work. In addition, Pleasure Dome includes 25 early, uncollected poems and a rich selection of 18 new poems.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A professor in the council of the humanities and creative writing at Princeton University, a recently elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a new addition to the Farrar, Straus & Giroux list, Komunyakaa certainly deserves this valedictory volume, collecting his work over a little more than 20 years for Wesleyan and including some new and previously uncollected work. The new poems here should not be confused with the speedy quatrains of Talking Dirty to the Gods, Komunyakaa's 11th book and his debut for FSG last September (Forecasts, July 17, 2000). In this 12th collection's compressed format, which does not break the page at the end of a poem before starting another, the new work takes up about 25 pages, but is really almost a short collection's worth of material. It's reminiscent of 1998's Thieves of Paradise with its heady mix of gothic foreboding, racial history and realpolitik, biblical and Attic allusion, and sexual longing. The previously "Early Uncollected" work (about 15 pages' worth) shows Komunyakaa's signature Olson/Ginsberg/Berrigan ampersand in place and clarifies a debt to the late '60s deep image school. But most readers will want this book for its alternatingly erudite and feral energy and its truth telling about Vietnam (see Dien Cai Dau and others) and America. (Mar.) Forecast: This volume replaces Neon Vernacular, Komunyakaa's 1993 selected, and seems designed to ride on the coattails of the poet's jump to trade visibility, which included a Poets & Writers cover profile last year. It will be a steady seller via creative writing and 20th-century literature syllabi and with readers who will be looking for previous collections after discovering Talking Dirty and future volumes. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
"You try to beat loneliness/ out of a drum, searching for a note/ of kindness." Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for Neon Vernacular, but perhaps best known for Dien Cai Dau, poems chronicling his experiences as a journalist in Vietnam, Komunyakaa is one of this generation's most remarkable poets. This hefty volume makes it clear just why, gathering 25 years of work, the matter of ten previous books, as well as new poems and heretofore uncollected pieces. Komunyakaa's poetry celebrates a wide range of ideas; he is well known for writing about his Southern roots, about the streets and the clouds on which he walks, about the war, and about music, especially jazz. What he writes about best, though, may be women: one or another from his past is often the touchstone for a poem, providing its core and essence. Lovers and friends, family and figments of fantasy, women picked up on the street, with or without their knowledge, all thread through these pages. Nearly every page of these collected poems will pull you from your expectations, tell you something you did not know, and leave you better off than you were. Highly recommended. Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Komunyakaa’s poems sway with jazz-inflected rhythms. Short lines and percussive internal rhymes combine with sinuously stepped enjambment to give the poems a strongly musical movement.” —Ian Tromp, Times Literary Supplement

"Komunyakaa certainly deserves this valedictory volume . . . [The new work] is really almost a short collection's worth of material. It's reminiscent of 1998's Thieves of Paradise with its heady mix of gothic foreboding, racial history and realpolitick, biblical and Attic allusion, and sexual longing . . . Most readers will want this book for its alternatingly erudite and feral energy and its truth-telling about Vietnam (see Dien Cai Dau and others) and America."—Publishers Weekly

“Pleasure Dome is substantial, a comprehensive look at a significant poet’s impressive career. Regular readers of Komunyakaa will find much of interest here—the book begins with a healthy selection of new poems, followed by a book-length group of the poet’s early, uncollected work. …a book impressive in its scope and volume, the life’s work, thus far, of one of America’s finer poets.”—Virginia Quarterly Review

"Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Komunyakaa's second book in less than a year attests to the protean nature of his poetic imagination and skills, his fluent creative energy, and his passion for living the examined life . . . Komunyakaa is emerging as one of the major American poets of our time."—Booklist

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819567390
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
  • Publication date: 9/20/2004
  • Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 468
  • Sales rank: 1,502,190
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA is a professor in the creative writing department at New York University. He has won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and many other awards for poetic achievement, including the 2001 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the 2004 Shelley Memorial Award, the Hanes Poetry Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Levinson Prize from Poetry Magazine, and the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

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Read an Excerpt

You try to beat loneliness
out of a drum,
but cries only spring
from your mouth.
Synapse & memory--
the day quivers like dancers
with bells on their feet,
weaving a path of songs
to bring you back,
to heal our future
with the old voices
we breathe.
from "Tenebrae"
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Table of Contents

New Poems
Early Uncollected
Dedications and Other Darkhorses
Lost in the Bonewheel Factory
Toys in a Field
I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head
Dien Cai Dau
February in Sydney
Magic City
Neon Vernacular
Thieves of Paradise
Index of titles and first lines

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