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Dien Cai Dau (Colección de poesía #47)

4.32  ·  Rating Details ·  547 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Best known for Neon Vernacular, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1994, and for Dien Cai Dau, a collection of poems chronicling his experiences as a journalist in Vietnam, Yusef Komunyakaa has become one of America's most compelling poets.
Paperback, 72 pages
Published September 1st 1988 by Wesleyan
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Most days, I sit in a Center for Writing, reviewing papers for college students, and clarifying the proper formatting and style required by the Modern Language Association (MLA), as relates to scholastic writing. As I notice varying writing styles, I suggest books for students to read, based on their style. So imagine my surprise when a student comes in and suggests this book for me to read. You have to read this, he said. I nodded and shrugged it off mentally, just like you do when you get a bo ...more
We all have our ghosts.

So says Yusef, and with masterful language and imagery he, at once, invokes and exorcises one of his, the Vietnam War. I use the word invoke because all possible meanings apply: to call upon for blessing, inspiration, support; to make useful as pertinent; to summon or conjure a spirit; to solemnly plead or implore.

For all the frank brutality, sorrow and anger, this is poetic in the truest sense of the word. There's a narrative, but it's too deep and painful for straight p
Apr 26, 2015 Jenna rated it really liked it
This coming Thursday marks the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Vietnamese-American War. For me and for other diasporic Vietnamese like me, this date is especially significant, as it stakes out not just a traumatic event in our family histories but also a turning point: April 30, 1975 was the calendar date on which our families were reborn, redefined, translated, transmuted into English speakers, America dwellers, U.S. citizens.

On the back of this book, there is a blurb written by the l
Joseph S.
Aug 28, 2009 Joseph S. rated it it was amazing
Dien Cai Dau - Awesome and Vivid Vietnam Poems

Professor Yusef Komunyakaa is just an awesome poet and is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He is a recipient of the 1994 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and the Pulitzer Prize Award for his book, Neon Vernacular. During the spring of 2009 I read four of his books for a class assignment and was just amazed by the brilliance I came across in his poems. He served as a military correspondence during the Vietnam conflict and was right in the t
Jul 15, 2010 Serena rated it it was amazing
Yusef Komunyakaa‘s Dien Cai Dau is another collection of Vietnam War poetry. The poet, who received the Bronze Star and edited The Southern Cross, dedicates this book to his brother Glenn, “who saw The Nam before” Komunyakaa did. His poems put the reader in the soldiers’ shoes, allowing them to camouflage themselves and skulk around the jungles of Vietnam from the very first lines of “Camouflaging the Chimera.” Beyond skulking in the jungle, hunting the Viet Cong, Komunyakaa discusses the weight ...more
Jan 12, 2012 A. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Komunyakaa delivers everything I want in a volume of poetry in this magnificent book of Vietnam War verse. The language he uses are gorgeous, the poems sound beautiful when read aloud, the topic is fascinating and he has a perfect balance between narrative, images and metaphors.

What I found most interesting was the intersection of sex and war. In poem after poem the soldiers are either remembering loves they left behind or seeking quick relief and some human contact from the Vietnamese woman.

Craig Werner
Nov 02, 2013 Craig Werner rated it it was amazing
Still the best book of poetry to come out of the Vietnam War. Komunyakaa takes the experiences of his personae at an angle, crafting images to reflect the various confrontations, deflections, evasions, blues memories that cycle in and out of focus. The collection's structured to move the reader from the middle of the jungle to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the stunning final poem, "Facing It." Each of the voices is so convincing it's tempting to read the collection as autobiographical, but th ...more
Donald Armfield
Jul 24, 2015 Donald Armfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, poetry
Yusef once a soldier "Dien Cai Dau" which means crazy in Vietnamese. started reading poetry while serving in the army. Now he writes his experiences as; victims, warfare, lost friends and psychological terrains.
As a fan of Komunyakaa's work this is more of a personal collection, like his previous collections you can pull out his surreal outtake between these lines.

My overall favorite is "The One-legged Stool" where Yusef writes a man's rage of being locked in a confinement. You can almost hear
Mary Brownfield
Apr 12, 2008 Mary Brownfield rated it it was amazing
I began reading this book after it was recommended to me by a PhD candidate at UH. He's a published poet and works with my juniors once a week, helping them develop their own writing style and voice. I am blown away by the emotion, depth, and raw descriptive power of this body of work. As the daughter of a Vietnam vet, I have found this collection to be a telling narrative of what my father must have experienced yet cannot talk about in detail more than 30 years later. I weep for the soldiers wh ...more
Feb 23, 2014 Destroydecay rated it it was ok
There are gorgeous moments and beautiful language use throughout this collection. I love the play with race and the treatment of African Americans, the comparisons between the treatment of the VC, the Vietnamese women, the Vietnamese citizens, and African American soldiers. I loved the motif of ghosts and shadows.

This only gets such a low star rating from me because I'm just not interested in war or history enough to fully appreciate the beauty of this collection. And I know that's on me.
Tamora Pierce
Nov 10, 2008 Tamora Pierce rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who are veterans of the Vietnam War or who are interested in its power
Recommended to Tamora by: I read a review of some of the author's other works in Publisher
A haunting collection of emotional snapshots from the American War in Vietnam, jibing with what I've read in veteran's accounts and from what I've heard from veteran's accounts. I think this packs a lot of emotional wallop for not a lot of print simply because the poetic imagery is so intense. There are a couple of pieces at the end that evoke the aftermath of the war that are also heart-stabbing.
missy jean
Jan 24, 2008 missy jean rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
i can't get through "re-creating the scene" (the poem on pages 19-20) without crying a little. this book was an apt introduction to imagery; i have gone back to its pages since thomas sayers ellis's seminar and now that i'm constantly thinking about how "verse re-verses," this collection of poems is a study in creating powerful images that send the reader back to the beginning. eminently powerful.
Jan 28, 2016 Pj rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I have not read Komunyalaa has deeply as other poets; so, it may be incorrect to call Dien Cai Dau his masterpiece. This collection, specifically its culminating poem 'Facing It', remain incredible pieces of writing. Drawing from his experiences in Vietnam, Komunyakaa's poems give glimpses both visual and psychological into the conflict. Finally, like all of the best art, Komunyakaa's writing sticks with you for long after it'd been read.
Patrick Michael
Apr 17, 2016 Patrick Michael rated it it was amazing
'You and I Are Disappearing'

'The cry I bring down from the hills
belongs to a girl still burning
inside my head. At daybreak
she burns like a piece of paper.
She burns like foxfire
in a thigh-shaped valley.
A skirt of flames
burns around her
at dusk.
We stand with our hands
hanging at our sides,
while she burns
like a sack of dry ice'
Brian Huskie
Aug 07, 2015 Brian Huskie rated it it was amazing
Some of these poems are specific to Vietnam veterans, some to the black experience in Vietnam, but many of them rang true to me as a white Iraq war veteran. Powerful book.

Side note...I've bought this book three times, lent it to students (who don't typically enjoy poetry) three times, and had it "walk away" three times. I consider that a complement to Professor Komunyakaa.
May 12, 2012 Rob rated it really liked it
I have always liked Komunyakaa's poetry. It's smooth, natural, and profound. I love reading his poems because you think you're reading something real simple, then you get hit with something that rocks you to your core. I don't know much about the Vietnam War, but reading this has made me want to learn more.
Oct 13, 2007 Wade rated it liked it
Engaging collection of poems dealing with Vietnam. A solid read, but too much metaphor for my taste - K's efforts to label bits of experience "as" something else are too frequent, and feel too distracting to the tightly rendered narratives contained within.
May 26, 2010 Kara rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this collection of poems very much. My favorite poem is "You and I Are Disappearing." I like the repetition of, "she burns," throughout the poem. The imagery is really powerful and the poem triggers a lot of emotions.
Jul 29, 2014 Helen rated it really liked it
Poems of war, specifically the Vietnam War, from an African American perspective. Komunyakaa holds nothing back, these are gritty, brutal poems, and worth reading as poetry and also as a primary source for the life of an American soldier during that time.
Jun 30, 2008 Shannon rated it really liked it
I admit, I am not a learned connoisseur of poetry (though I know how to spell connoisseur, so that has to count for something). I am pretty good at telling crap from non-crap though, and this is guaranteed non-crap (you heard it here first).
Oct 13, 2008 Abby rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, mfa-3rd-term
The best book of poems that I may not read again. So raw and vivid and evocative of the dread and horrors of Vietnam, it's hard to put down and harder still to shake off.
Al rated it it was amazing
Sep 16, 2008
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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
More about Yusef Komunyakaa...

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“Cursing themselves in ragged dreams
fire has singed the edges of,

they know a slow dying the fields have come to terms with.
Shimmering fans work against the heat

& smell of gunpowder, making money
float from hand to hand. The next moment

a rocket pushes a white fist
through night sky, & they scatter like birds

& fall into the shape their lives
have become.”
“We move like a platoon of silhouettes
balancing sledge hammers on our heads,
unaware our shadows have untied
from us, wandered off
& gotten lost.”
More quotes…