Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Emperor of Water Clocks: Poems Hardcover – October 6, 2015
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Praise for Yusef Komunyakaa
“Yusef Komunyakaa is one of our period's most significant and individual voices . . . He has a near-revelatory capacity to give himself over to his subject matter and to the taut concision of his free verse . . . Dazzling.” ―David Wojahn, Poetry on Yusef Komunyakaa
“Probably my favorite living poet. No one else taught me more about how important it was to think about how words make people feel. It's not enough for people to know something is true. They have to feel it's true.” ―Ta-Nehisi Coates, The New York Times Style Magazine
Praise for Emperor of Water Clocks
“The Emperor of Water Clocks is very much a movement from reverie to reverie, and an impressive work of lyric wisdom as well.”―Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Monthly
About the Author
Yusef Komunyakaa's books of poetry include Neon Vernacular (for which he received the Pulitzer Prize), Talking Dirty to the Gods, Taboo, Warhorses, The Chameleon Couch, and Testimony: A Tribute to Charlie Parker. His plays, performance art, and libretti have been performed internationally and include Wakonda's Dream, Saturnalia, Testimony, and Gilgamesh (a verse play). He teaches at New York University.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
starting from The Land of Cockaigne, where ‘A drowned kingdom rises at daybreak’, a modern-day ulysses, a reincarnation of melville’s pip, or a seeker of some lost world, take your pick, travels to faraway places. poems of strange lands and quasi-mythical individuals, the material of legends, of kings and emperors, mermaids and a Minotaur, of kings and emperors, even a president holding a book as the sojourner wonders if the book of poems by the island poet, derek walcott, is for president obama some sort of augury:
‘Was he looking for St. Lucia’s light
to touch his face those first days
in the official November snow and sleet…?’
our traveler is no stranger to portents, see Omens or an Augury at Sunset
instead of potentates, he pays tribute to the troubadours and singers. see the sketch on the book cover of richard lindner’s Division of Surfaces, how our voyager stops:
‘to place a few red anemones
and the sheaf of wheat on Darwish’s grave. …’
to write elegies for kiki dan in a hospice, and for michio ito. the artist, the poet, the singer, and the dancer.
the instruments of which he sings belong not to the ship’s navigator but to musician, the Krar, Ode to the Oud, and the four wind instruments in The Work of Orpheus.
not always by ship does he travel, though water is never far from any of these poems. when inland, there is ‘November snow and sleet’, and there is the water clock as part of a vision as obscure as a figure in the carpet or a face in the fog, which figures in whole and in part in several poems.
and through several poems when the way seems lost there are the two charting poems Longitudes and Latitudes, the latter a riddle of identity:
'If I am not Ulysses, I am
his dear, ruthless half brother …'
and when the occasion requires, the riddler is more diver than a sailor as in The Enchanted Diver and again Latitudes:
‘If I am
Ulysses, made of his words
and deeds, I swam with sea cows
and mermaids in a lost season,’
in the concluding poem, like ulysses he arrives home from his wanderings in a good season to a good place, Springtime in Atlantis.
a book of singular poems which can be assembled in a diversity of narratives. i suggest one. others are there. a rare selection for a reading group.
Emperor takes its place in a long line of critically acclaimed poetry penned by Komunyakaa and continues his dedication to the trends of the Contemporary Period, most notably in “a continuing exploration of music and other forms of vernacular culture as springboards for literary innovation and theoretical analysis” (NAAL 914). In Emperor, Komunyakaa echoes the likes of Langston Hughes and Michael S. Harper through his lyrical tone and pointed approach to topical, pressing issues, including gun control (“Rock Me, Mercy”) and police violence against unarmed black men (“Ghazal, After Ferguson”). In the former, Komunyakaa draws upon “a place where a certain kind of meditation can take place” (NAAL 1266). Exploring the moral challenges of modern life, Komunyakaa juxtaposes this serenity with a nation in mourning following the horrific school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut which left 20 children and six adults dead. Noting twice in the 15-line poem that “The river stones are listening,” he calls on hiding guardian angels to listen to a weeping nation as the “trees lean closer today” (27).
Less than two years later, Komunyakaa conjures Hip-Hop and Rap Artists to attempt an explanation of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Lamenting the fact that “No, an attitude is not a suicide note/written on walls around the streets” and that “fear can kill a man on the streets,” Komunyakaa pleads for Biggie Smalls and Grandmaster Flash to “orate/what’s going on in the streets” (96). His repetition of “streets” as the conclusion of each couplet illicit the public bloodshed and hauntingly harken the erupting violence during the rise of the Black Arts Movement; he implores the reader to “Take back the night. Take killjoy’s/cameras & microphones to the streets” (96). Injustice and anger take center stage as he asks “Who will go out there & speak laws/of motion & relativity in the streets?” (97).
Using a “deceptively simple style,” Komunyakaa remains true to the form he’s crafted for forty years, contrasting deeply rooted references with social observations (NAAL 1277). Though Emperor crosses the borders of land and time, his words resonate with the same beauty and clarity.