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Magic City

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  206 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Komunyakaa vividly evokes his childhood in Bogalusa, Louisiana, once a center of Klan activity, and later a focus of Civil Rights efforts. He portrays a child's dawning awareness of the natural and social order around him, rhythms of life in the community, the constant struggle for survival in the face of poverty and racism, the adolescent's awakening sexuality, the beginn ...more
Paperback, 68 pages
Published October 9th 1992 by Wesleyan
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I got to hear Yusef read in 2007 and he has the most incredible reading voice I have ever heard... I liked his poetry, but hearing him read truly captures the kind of grit and lurking-Old-Testament-prophet-vibe of his work. Pretty incredible.
Eveline Chao
I am in China without my beloved piles of books so I can't actually remember anything specific from this collection. I love it though. I think that this poem I especially like might be in here, about watching a Vietnamese woman burn during the Vietnam war. It's all, She burns like vodka/She burns like this/She burns like that... Okay this review sucks. But the poem is beautiful.
Jennifer Lauren Collins
Perhaps more than any of Komunyakaa's other collections of poetry, Magic City is grounded in his experiences coming of age in a Louisiana town that was at one time a center of Klan activity, and at a later date, a center of Civil Rights activity. Centering on questions of adolescence and race, the book resounds with the rhythms of blues, basketball, and southern living. Many of the poems here will stop readers in their tracks--they are just that powerful and ring with that much truth--and others ...more
Undulating Perceptions
I had trouble relating to a lot of Komunyakka’s subject matter because I didn’t grow up in Louisiana during the Civil Rights movement, nor do I come from an impoverished background or have encountered racism in my time. However, I do enjoy Komunyakka’s innocent portrayals of his childhood. He seems to have very vivid memories of how he felt and what he saw as a kid; he remembers every little detail. In “Playthings,” we can all relate to the authentic happiness of childlike
Diann Blakely
"I am this space/my body believes in," ends "The Unnatural State of the Unicorn," the first poem in Yusef Komunyakaa 's 1986 volume, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE EYES IN MY HEAD (Wesleyan). That the body itself, apart from mind or soul, can possess beliefs--or memories or hopes or regrets or revelations--comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with Komunyakaa's work, or to anyone discovering this poet for the first time through NEON VERNACULAR, which includes rich samplings from books now out of print. T ...more
Pamela J
Komunyakaa is one of the best living poets of our times. This collection draws on youth, of innocence and of innocence loss. Just read it.
Magic City is a collection of childhood narratives that contrast the naïve voice of an African American boy with the intense historical context of Louisiana in the 1950’s, rife with Klan activity and industrial development. It traces the narrator’s burgeoning sexual identity, the effects of industrialization (posing it as a modern form of slavery), and the racism so prevalent in the time just before the Civil Rights Movement. The poems are good studies of effective line breaks (“Venus’s-flytrap ...more
Excellent collection; creates a larger story more than most I've read.
Komunyakaa's works is so fabolous that every time you read it, you are able to find some allusion to something really important in society in which he grew up. I really like "Immolatus" because of its many metaphors, similes and many other literary techniquest that he uses. His works make me feel close to a nature because its setting represents a rural town where Industrialization is not able to to destroyed.
I picked this up off a community bookshelf. The accolades seemed on point; what did I have to lose? I have been on an extended tour of excellent reading material. Komunyakaa, who grew up in Bogalusa, offers a world that is as familiar as it alien to me. This is one more author who I am going to be obsessively following for years I am sure.
LOVE this book. Such a clear look into childhood with the innocence of that time, but also the wisdom of adulthood. The first poem in the book, "Venus' Flytraps is the best. If I had one complaint, it's the constancy of the form, it becomes a little exhausting after awhile, especially given the length of the book.
Some of Komunyakaa's most accessible pieces I've read. I am a fan, and find most all of his work stunning, but this volume is unique in that it captures memories of every sense from his childhood growing up in Louisiana.
Matthew Gallant
My first taste of Kumanyakaa (sp?) was not pleasant, some translation of a famous play or something, so I wasn't expecting much out of this one, but I was wrong. Magic City is fantastic.
All the poems look alike on the page, and they build on each other with wonderful world-building, but each poem is also a surprise.
Why are there only 57 pages? I love this collection.
Kristen Gunther
I take back every dubious thought I ever had about Komunyakaa's poetry. This is so completely rendered, so vivid -- the images are clear but make the book just churn.
Read 'My Father's Love Letters' and you will understand what a poem should do.
Aug 22, 2007 Mendi added it
I (re)learned how to write poetry after reading "Venus's-Flytraps".
This is my favorite of his.
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Yusef Komunyakaa (born April 29, 1947) is an American poet who teaches at New York University and is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Komunyakaa is a recipient of the 1994 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, for Neon Vernacular and the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He also received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Komunyakaa received the 2007 Louisiana Writer Award for his enduring contribut ...more
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