With the allusive leaps and improvisational chops of a jazz soloist, Yusef Komunyakaa is our great poet of connectivity--the secret blood that links slave and master, explorer and native, stranger and brother. In Taboo he examines the role of blacks in Western history, and how these roles are portrayed in art and literature. In taut, meticulously crafted three-line stanzas, Rubens paints his wife looking longingly at a black servant; Aphra Behn writes Oroonoko "as if she'd rehearsed it/for years in her spleen"; and in Monticello, Thomas Jefferson is "still/at his neo-classical desk/musing, but we know his mind/is brushing aside abstractions/so his hands can touch flesh." Taboo is the powerful first book in a new trilogy by a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet whose work never ceases to challenge and delight his readers.
Praise for Taboo
“[Yusef Komunyakaa] has a near-revelatory capacity to give himself over to his subject matter and to the taut concision of his free verse . . . Dazzling.” —David Wojahn, Poetry
“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
“[Taboo] calls to mind Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman--the private gaze and the civic drum, purifying language, purifying history.” —Darryl Lorenzo Wellington, Washington Post Book World