Page 10 - IU Southeast 2012 Fall Mag Web

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Poetry without bounds
What am I reading?
Anne E. Guernsey Allen, a Professor
of Fine Arts at IU Southeast, suggests
the following books.
The first book,
actually a set of
three, that I want
to recommend is
the Morningstar
Strain trilogy, by
Z.A. Recht. This is a
zombie story. Yes,
zombies.
Plague
of the Dead, Thunder and Ashes
,
and
The Survivors
were originally
published by Permuted Press. Unlike
many zombie movies and novels,
these books are not excessively gory
and concentrate on character and
plot. The reader begins to care for
the plucky survivors, trying to find
a cure or just maintain a sense of
community in the face of a worldwide
epidemic.”
On a lighter
note, but possibly
related by blood,
are the Brother
Cadfael Mysteries,
written by Ellis
Peters, the nom
de plume of the
linguist-scholar
Edith Pargeter.
Set in medieval
England, these tales concern a
former crusader who returns home
after many years of travel to become
a Benedictine monk. His experience
with the outside world, as well as his
knowledge of medicinal herbs, makes
him the perfect choice to investigate
any murders that seem to regularly
occur. It has taken me a number of
years to read the complete set, a feat
finally accomplished just last month.”
I do want to recommend one book
for those who
like their history
straight up. This is
the book
1776
by
David McCullough.
This is not your
boring high school,
U.S. history book.
Focusing more on
the battles than the politics,
1776
is
a must read for anyone who has an
interest in the American Revolution
or is a military history buff.”
Flashback Through the Heart: The
Poetry of Yusef Komunyakaa
is the
work of IU Southeast professor Angela
Salas.
With her book, Salas sought to ensure
that Komunyakaa’s poetry was noted
for more than his insight into race.
Why did I write the
book?  Because Yusef
Komunyakaa writes
wonderful poems,
on a variety of
subjects; however,
many critics seem
uncomfortable
attending to
those of his
poems that
do not take
race as their
subject,”
Salas said.  
While
race,
gender, economic
status, and sexual
orientation all
inform
people’s
sense of themselves in the world, they
need not
define
them. Thus, it seemed
both disrespectful and wasteful to me
that some readers might look upon
Komunyakaa solely for his insights on
race and racism, and I sought to write
this book to illustrate what we readers
lose when we ignore those poems that
do not engage solely with race,” she
said. “It was my hope to respect the
importance of Komunyakaa’s lived
experience, while also asserting that
poems are not lyrical sociologists.
In short, I sought to point out the
universality of Komunykaa’s vision and
his work, which is also informed by the
particularity of his experience.”
The following is an excerpt from
Flashback Through the Heart: The
Poetry of Yusef Komunyakaa
,
published
by Susquehanna University Press.
Yusef Komunyakaa’s literary career
reveals a specific aesthetic attempt to
achieve an unmediated connection with
his readers: a connection informed,
but not determined, by his life and
experiences as an African American
man.  These attempts are in some ways
akin to those of James Baldwin.  As a
teenager, Komunyakaa read Baldwin’s
Nobody Knows My Name
(1961)
in the
segregated public library of his home
town; he has cited Baldwin’s work as
instrumental in the formation of his
consciousness (Gotera 2000, 59-60). 
Komunyakaa has travelled widely, to
such places as Mexico, Vietnam, Japan,
and Australia; it is notable, however,
that he has not needed to become an
expatriate, as did Baldwin, to become
a successful writer. Perhaps Baldwin’s
account of his own dilemmas gave
Komunyakaa the mental space to map
out his human journey; more likely, the
phenomenal, if uncompleted changes
in the social and racial
status quo
in the
United States has given the younger
writer an emotional and psychological
liberation Baldwin lacked.”
About the Author
Angela Salas is director of the Honors
Program at Indiana University
Southeast. She has a B.A. in English
(
with department honors) from Ursinus
College, a M.A. Ed. in English, from the
University of Nebraska-Kearney, and a
Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-
Lincoln. She was recently inducted
into the Indiana University Faculty
Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching
(
FACET), for her many years of quality
teaching.