by Dario DiBattista
Yusef Komunyakaa doesn’t return my emails. This confuses me. When I met the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet two years ago at a small house at the tiny Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, I thought I had made a positive impression. At the conclusion of his speaker’s engagement there, Yusef had even stopped me on the way out the door to shake my hand. When I queried him recently, he remembered this encounter and agreed to an interview. I am unsure why he doesn’t respond. But thinking about it now, I can piece together why.
On the day that I met Yusef, the rain fell intensely. Everyone was soaked from the short trip from the parking lot to the building. Most of the attendees were veterans; almost none of them brought umbrellas. Considering that many of them had survived monsoon seasons in ‘Nam, why should they get worried about a little rain? Yusef’s College appointed handler took a long time to introduce him — there was a lot to introduce: a Bronze Star for service in the Army as an information specialist in Southeast Asia; three degrees, including an MA and MFA at respectable universities; a collection of eight published poetry books that boasts the Pulitzer Prize-winning Neon Vernacular; and all sorts of teaching accolades, most notably, English Professor at Princeton University. Read more