Abstract

Whether they are reading about German history, Greek mythology, homosexuality, or parenthood, many readers still seek a convenient monolithic "African American perspective" from African American authors. Indeed, writers as imaginative and meritorious as James Baldwin, Robert Hayden, Rita Dove, and Gwendolyn Brooks have all contended with the consequences of being read and described as spokespeople for their race, rather than as poets whose subjectivity was and is informed, but not determined, by race. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa tries to escape such narrow readings of his work, exhibiting a determined arc towards an all-encompassing vision, while also honoring the particularity of his personal, race-inflected, observations and experiences. In so doing, Komunyakaa complicates reductive, race-obsessed readings of his work, drawing force and strength from the particularity of his experience as an African American southerner raised in Klan country, but functioning imaginatively from many different positions.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-4286
Print ISSN
0093-3139
Pages
pp. 32-53
Launched on MUSE
2003-10-06
Open Access
No
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