Talking Dirty to the Gods Poems

Yusef Komunyakaa

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

144 Pages



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These prismatic lyrics—so solidly constructed, so thematically expansive—speak of, and for, the primal rituals and ribald taboos shared by insects, animals, human beings, and deities. "Komunyakaa's mournful surrealism seems to have found a perfect mathematical embodiment," observed The New Yorker. "[This book] comprises 132 poems of four four-line stanzas. These are poems about the uncontrollable human and natural mysteries, and they are made sharper and more mysterious by the eternal recurrence of the stanzaic structure. Komunyakaa's lexical and historical range is large, and his improvisations move effortlessly from Theocritus to Rimbaud, Chet Baker, and the Black Panthers."


Praise for Talking Dirty to the Gods

"Komunyakaa wonderfully achieves the combined mischief and moralizing of Catullus, one of his acknowledged heroes . . . He refuses to be trivial; and he even dares beauty."—April Bernard, The New York Times Book Review

"[This] new volume is remarkable exactly because it's a category killer, a sustained anti-hierarchy. The hundred-plus poems speak equally to gods and maggots, to the mythical reaches of history, and to erotic immediacy . . . [Komunyakaa] discovers a spirited materialism, the landscape pantheistically aglow, the prime matter seemingly always at hand."—Village Voice Literary Supplement (from the citation as one of the 25 Favorite Books of 2000)

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Yusef Komunyakaa

  • Yusef Komunyakaa's thirteen books of poems include Warhorses, Taboo, and Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize. He is also the winner of the American Academy of Poets' Wallace Stevens Award and the Poetry Society of America's Shelley Memorial Award. He teaches at Princeton University.

  • Yusef Komunyakaa © Tom Wallace