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Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems (Wesleyan Poetry Series) Paperback – September 20, 2004

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Product Details

  • Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan (September 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819567396
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819567390
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #600,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From 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 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "exile3" on June 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
What Komunyakaa brings so decisively to poetry is an exquisite and pungent language, woven into imagery that draws readers down the corridors of near surreal, yet enthralling, worlds. Forget the obtuse, emotional, and otherwise pseudo-critical 'reviews': Komunyakaa refuses to replicate the limpness and timidity that characterizes so much of the poetry of our day. More to the point, the reader who is truly paying attention comes away from these poems with a kind of vertigo spun from a refreshing interplay of similes and metaphors -- both complex and extended. This applies to every book of his poetry, all of which I highly recommend.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Yusef Komunyakaa, Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems (Wesleyan, 2001)

When they say "new and collected," they mean "new and collected." Clocking in at just shy of five hundred pages, Pleasure Dome does collect, as far as I can tell, the sum total of Pulitzer winner Komunyakaa's work to date. It's a massive book, even larger than Jim Harrison's recent The Shape of the Journey, almost approaching the sheer magnitude of Hardy's Complete Poems, the largest single-author book of poetry to ever reside on my shelf. (Morris' The Earthly Paradise is in twelve volumes.) And while it does get inconsistent at times, the overall recommendation on it is a resonating yes.

Komunyakaa, a Vietnam war vet who began writing while in the bush, infuses much of his poetry with the war. This is not terribly surprising. What is is that, for atleast ninety-five percent of the war poetry, he does not allow the message to run away with the medium. That Komunyakaa's collections Toys in a Field and Dien Cai Dau are some of the most stirring work ever written on the Vietnam experience is testament to the power of McLuhan's oft-used truism "the medium is the message." Komunyakaa lets the story tell the story, and the story is stronger for it.

It is to be expected that no poet can be perfect, and this is true of Komunyakaa. However, the number of times he slips into messagizing mode can be counted here on the fingers of one hand, an absolutely astounding feat in a book of over four hundred pages of poetry; he is truly a master of the poetic art.

This is a book to be browsed through at leisure, not read per se; it took me almost six weeks to get through it, and I'm a speedreader. It demands time and effort, and will offer the reader willing to put them in rewards in kind. *** ˝
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Komunyakaa is by far the best American poet writing today. Pay no attention to those who fail to understand his unique way with words. Purists write boring poetry anyway...
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Abola on December 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
i am not a college professor, nor am i a distinguished poet. i haven't even finished my undergraduate studies. but anyone who ignores the merit of any medium of art is more stupid than i am. komunyakaa's work doesn't adhere to everyone's standards. it cannot satisfy every critic, becauase a poet doesn't write solely for its audience. komunyakaa's poetry soars due to his use of juxtaposition, or duality if you will. he combines colloquial street-jive with allusive metaphors. he sews one visceral image into a beautiful one, creating a unique feel akin to surrealism. however, never has surrealism been more personal. his poetry is a soul-searing inspection that is complex enough to reflect on an entire society. each person has a right to their opinion, just as komunyakaa has every right to write poetry his way. so say what you will about how he's not an amazing poet, you have every right, but i have every right to say you're wrong.
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