Condition Red: Essays, Interviews, and Commentaries

Condition Red: Essays, Interviews, and Commentaries


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Condition Red collects writing by one of America’s most gifted and revered poets, Yusef Komunyakaa. While themes from his earlier prose collection, Blue Notes, run through Condition Red, this volume expresses a greater sense of urgency about the human condition and the role of the artist. Condition Red includes his powerful letter to Poetry magazine, asserting that “we writers (artists) cannot forget that we are responsible for what we conjure and embrace through language, whether in essays, novels, plays, poems, or songs.” Also included are essays and interviews on: coming home to Bogalusa, Louisiana; the influence of religion on black poetry; language and eroticism; the visual artist Floyd Tunson; and the poets Robert Hayden, Walt Whitman, Clarence Major, and Etheridge Knight. The book features an extended introduction by editor Radiclani Clytus, who concludes that “Condition Red issues readers much more than a critical warning; it reminds us that our innate cultural capacity for language is, and always has been, the sum total of that which defines us.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780472073443
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
Publication date: 04/17/2017
Series: Poets On Poetry Series
Pages: 238
Product dimensions: 5.37(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Yusef Komunyakaa's most recent book of poetry is The Emperor of Water Clocks. His collection Neon Vernacular received the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in New York City where he is currently Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University’s graduate creative writing program.

Table of Contents

Language in Our Blood Radiclani Clytus vii

I Essays

Red 3

Erasure 4

An Ode to Raccoon 16

Sorrow Songs and Flying Away: Religious Influence on Black Poetry 19

A Needful Thing 29

Crossroads 32

A Supreme Signifier: Etheridge Knight 34

The Devil's Secretary 37

The Blue Machinery of Summer 52

The Blood Work of Language 61

Son of Pop: Floyd D. Tunson's Neo-blues 65

Conundrum 72

Clarence Major's Cosmopolitan Vision 79

Dark Waters 83

The Method of Ai 96

II Interviews

Collaboration and the Wishbone 107

Three Shades of Past 126

Excursions 138

Getting a Shape 148

The Wolf/Interview 157

Celebration and Confrontation: Walt Whitman 164

III Commentaries

Notes from a Lost Notebook 179

You Made Me 190

More Than a State of Mind 193

Eros, Words 195

A Letter to Poetry 196

Small Illuminations 199

How Poetry Helps People to Live Their Lives 212

Picking a Lock to the Mind-Jail in the City of Asylum 214

A Note from The Best American Erotic Poems 219

The Mission of American Poets and Writers Visiting the 2008 Kolkata Book Fair 220

Rewriting Dante 221

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