Quotes by Yusef Komunyakaa

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I've been here before, dreaming myself backwards, among grappling hooks of light. True to the seasons, I've lived every word spoken. Did I walk into someone's nightmare? more...

Whoever said men hit harder when women are around, is right. Word for word, we beat the love out of each other. more...

Poetry is a process of getting back to the unconscious. Hence, I am always writing-even when I'm not facing the white space. I feel writers are like reservoirs of images. We take in what is around us. more...

Tonight I feel the stars are out to use me for target practice. more...

I think of language as our first music. more...

Blue is the insides of something mysterious and lonely. I'd look at fish and birds, thinking the sky and water colored them. The first abyss is blue. An artist must go beyond the mercy of satin or water-from a gutty hue to that which is close to royal purple. All seasons and blossoms inbetween. Lavender. Theatrical and outrageous electric. Almost gray. True and false blue. Water and oil. The gas jet breathing in oblivion. The unstruck match. The blue of absence. The blue of deep presence. The insides of something perfect. more...

I"ve been here before, dreaming myself backwards, among grappling hooks of light. True to the seasons, I"ve lived every word spoken. Did I walk into someone's nightmare? more...

I define poetry as celebration and confrontation. When we witness something, are we responsible for what we witness? That's an on-going existential question. Perhaps we are and perhaps there's a kind of daring, a kind of necessary energetic questioning. Because often I say it's not what we know, it's what we can risk discovering. more...

I originally wanted to embrace the imagery and forthrightness of rap music. There are some interesting, dynamic voices in rap. But I find most of it irresponsible in its overt violence and commercialization of anger. As artists, we believe we can will action through language. If that's the case, we have to take responsibility for what we say. more...

I see many black males grasping for some thread of hope. There are so many destructive practices, glimpses into a psychic abyss. That must be very frightening. more...

My great-grandfather Melvin had been a carpenter - so was my father - and they taught me the value of tools: saws, hammers, chisels, files and rulers. It all dealt with conciseness and precision. It eliminated guesswork. One has to know his tools, so he doesn't work against himself. more...

Through the years I have seen myself as a peaceful person, but the awareness of the anger is part of that process. more...

We have to embrace the good over the bad. That has to be one's personal project. more...

Students often have such a lofty idea of what a poem is, and I want them to realize that their own lives are where the poetry comes from. The most important things are to respect the language; to know the classical rules, even if only to break them; and to be prepared to edit, to revise, to shape. more...

I like what Oliver Lakes does on the saxophone. The saxophone comes pretty close to the sound of the human voice and when Oliver plays with other sax players, it's like a dialogue. more...

Poetry helps me understand who I am. It helps me understand the world around me. But above all, what poetry has taught me is the fact that I need to embrace mystery in order to be completely human. more...

Vietnam helped me to look at the horror and terror in the hearts of people and realize how we can't aim guns and set booby traps for people we have never spoken a word to. That kind of impersonal violence mystifies me. more...

I excavate history. I look at lives buried under too much silence. Periods of time, like slavery, have to be revisited, reimagined, so we can move through them. more...

It took me 14 years to write poems about Vietnam. I had never thought about writing about it, and in a way I had been systematically writing around it. more...

Poets are seen as the caretakers of language, so working with words no matter what the form is what we do. more...

I like connecting the abstract to the concrete. There's a tension in that. I believe the reader or listener should be able to enter the poem as a participant. So I try to get past resolving poems. more...

I think of my poems as personal and public at the same time. You could say they serve as psychological overlays. One fits on top of the other, and hopefully there's an ongoing evolution of clarity. more...

I'm uncomfortable with the focus on the poet and not on the poem. more...

It wasn't a deliberate decision to become a poet. It was something I found myself doing - and loving. Language became an addiction. more...

I am this space my body believes in. more...

Cursing themselves in ragged dreamsfire has singed the edges of,they know a slow dying the fields have come to terms with.Shimmering fans work against the heat& smell of gunpowder, making moneyfloat from hand to hand. The next momenta rocket pushes a white fistthrough night sky, & they scatter like birds& fall into the shape their liveshave become. more...

I close my eyes and can see men drawing lines in the dust. America pushes through the membrane of mist and smoke, and I'm a small boy again in Bogalusa. more...

Poetry is a kind of distilled insinuation. It's a way of expanding and talking around an idea or a question. Sometimes, more actually gets said through such a technique than a full frontal assault, more...

There's a sameness about American poetry that I don't think represents the whole people. It represents a poetry of the moment, a poetry of evasion, and I have problems with this. I believe poetry has always been political, long before poets had to deal with the page and white space . . . it's natural. more...

I said that love heals from inside. more...

Cursing themselves in ragged dreamsfire has singed the edges of,they know a slow dying the fields have come to terms with.Shimmering fans work against the heat& smell of gunpowder, making moneyfloat from hand to hand. The next momenta rocket pushes a white fistthrough night sky, & they scatter like birds& fall into the shape their liveshave become. more...

I knew life Began where I stood in the dark, Looking out into the light. more...


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