Yusef Komunyakaa Poetry Analysis

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Yusef Komunyakaa, famous African American poet of today, grew up at the very edge of the Civil Rights movements. Born in 1947 in Bouglasa, Louisiana, he witnessed firsthand the racial segregation and discrimination of the time. As a child, he loved to read, yet he was barred from the public library due to his race (Blumberg). In addition to this personal experience of discrimination, he likely observed and was aware of the purpose of the Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968) and the resurgence of black rage from political writers of the time, such as Amiri Baraka. He may not have been aware at the time that this black rage and polemical writing was the source of the Black Arts Movement (1960-1975).
Growing up surrounded by this political turmoil, some people may believe Komunyakaa’s later writing would embody the anger Black Arts Movement. This is not the case. Komunyakaa’s poetry instead embodies the Contemporary Era (1975-present) of writing that followed. He expresses a desire to grow beyond the anger of past discrimination, to acknowledge it, cope with it, and then move on. He recognized his black culture in his life through the changing of his name from James William Brown to Yusef Komunyakaa (Blumberg). He likewise responds to his black roots in his poetry through brief discussions of race and the coping mechanism of jazz and blues music. However, he also tackles other issues, such as his time in the Vietnam War and his own personal survival guilt, both of which have
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