The Chameleon Couch by Yusef Komunyakaa

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A Boston Globe Best Poetry Book of 2011A new and intimate collection from one of America's most important poets

The latest collection from one of our preeminent poets, The Chameleon Couch is also one of Yusef Komunyakaa's most personal to date. As in his breakthrough work, Copacetic, Komunyakaa writes again of music as muse—from a blues club in the East Village to the shakuhachi of Basho. Beginning with “Canticle,” this varied new collection often returns to the idea of poem as hymn, ethereal and haunting, as Komunyakaa reveals glimpses of memory, myth, and violence. With contemplations that spring up along walks or memories conjured by the rhythms of New York, Komunyakaa pays tribute more than ever before to those who came before him.

The book moves seamlessly across cultural and historical boundaries, evoking Komunyakaa’s capacity for cultural excavation, through artifact and place. The Chameleon Couch begins in and never fully leaves the present—an urban modernity framed, brilliantly, in pastoral-minded verse. The poems seek the cracks beneath the landscape, whether New York or Ghana or Poland, finding in each elements of wisdom or unexpected beauty. The collection is sensually, beautifully relaxed in rhetoric; in poems like “Cape Coast Castle,” Komunyakaa reminds us of his gift for combining the personal with the universal, one moment addressing a lover, the next moving the focus outward, until both poet and reader are implicated in the book's startling world. The Chameleon Couch is a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry.

About Yusef Komunyakaa

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Yusef Komunyakaa’s thirteen books of poems include Warhorses (FSG, 2008), Taboo (FSG, 2004), and Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize. He teaches at Princeton University.
Published March 15, 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 128 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Chameleon Couch

Publishers Weekly

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This 14th collection from Komunyakaa does not wear its ostensible subject%E2%80%94how to continually reinvent life when the past constantly wells up within the present%E2%80%94on its sleeve. But over

Mar 21 2011 | Read Full Review of The Chameleon Couch

Dallas News

Komunyakaa takes on some of the darkest moments in history, including the Holocaust, in a group of poems related to his trip to Czestochowa, a city in Poland where Nazis killed some 45,000 Jews.

Apr 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The Chameleon Couch

Englewood Review of Books

In his poem Ode to the Chameleon, Komunyakaa addresses illusion directly with the chameleon as case study:.

May 13 2011 | Read Full Review of The Chameleon Couch

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