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Contact: Contact: Kelsey Johnson, Centenary News Service, at 318-841-7265, or David Havird, Professor of English, at 318-869-5085

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet Wins Centenary’s Corrington Award; Public Convocation to be Held Oct. 24

Yusef Komunyakaa, winner of Centenary College's Corrington Award for Literary Excellence 2006

SHREVEPORT, LA – Centenary College will present Pulitzer Prize winner and Louisiana native Yusef Komunyakaa with the Corrington Award Tuesday, Oct. 24. The ceremony, which will include a reading by the poet, will take place at 7 p.m. in the Smith Building's Kilpatrick Auditorium on the Centenary campus. Hosted by Centenary’s English Department, the event is free and open to the public.

Hailing from Bogalusa, La., Komunyakaa has taught English and African American studies at universities across the country. From 1965–67, Komunyakaa served in Vietnam as a U.S. Army information specialist and editor of the Southern Cross, a military newspaper, and received the Bronze Star for his service. He has won many awards for his poetry, most notably the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems. Komunyakaa will be reading selections from the book, which first-year students have been studying this fall, at the ceremony.

Komunyakaa’s poetry in Neon Vernacular represents some of his best creative work, critics say. Using simple language, he draws from personal experience to present images of the South and its culture, racial tensions, wartime, and jazz and blues.

Komunyakaa has written 12 books of poetry and contributed to numerous anthologies and periodicals. He has co-edited two jazz poetry anthologies, helped translate The Insomnia of Fire by Nguyen Quang Thieu and compiled a book of prose, Blue Notes: Essays, Interviews, and Commentaries.

His most recent work, Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975-1999, was published in 2001. Komunyakaa was appointed New York University's Distinguished Senior Poet and is a faculty member in NYU's graduate creative writing program.

Named for the Centenary alumnus and author of the short novel Decoration Day, the John William Corrington Award takes the form of a bronze medal designed by the internationally acclaimed Louisiana sculptor Clyde Connell. Previous recipients include poets as well as novelists: Eudora Welty, Ernest J. Gaines, James Dickey, Miller Williams, Lee Smith, Paul Auster, Elizabeth Spencer, Anthony Hecht, Richard Wilbur, Eleanor Wilner, Richard Powers, C. K. Williams, Eavan Boland, Michael Longley, Debora Greger and William Logan and last year's Bobbie Ann Mason.

For more information, contact Professor of English David Havird at 318-869-5085.

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