Yusef Komunyakaa

Yusef Komunyakaa’s books of poetry include Taboo, Dien Cai Dau, Neon Vernacular (for which he received the Pulitzer Prize), Warhorses, The Chameleon Couch, Emperor of Water Clocks, and most recently Night Animals. His plays, performance art, and libretti have been performed internationally and include Saturnalia, Testimony, and Gilgamesh. Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth is forthcoming in 2021.
November 10, 2020

Originally published in our 2011 Music Issue 

Now, I wonder, is the song about a smokestack, a place, a woman, or a state of mind? “Whoa oh tell me, baby / Where did ya stay last night?” The phrases seemed to collide, creating tension essential to the blues shaped around the timbre of Howlin’ Wolf’s voice, which perhaps echoed the familiar robust presence of a deacon I’d heard at church.