Yusef Komunyakaa grew up in the deep south during the dawn of the civil rights movement. He served a tour of duty in Viet Nam, where he was also a writer and the managing editor for the military newspaper, the *Southern Cross*. He began writing poetry several years after he returned to the US. By 1979, at the age of 32, Komunyakaa had earned a BA, an MA, and an MFA, and had published two collections of poems, *Dedications & Other Darkhorses* and *Lost in the Bonewheel Factory.* Komunyakaa won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for *Neon Vernacular*. He is the senior distinguished poet in the graduate writing program at NYU.