Poetry of Vietnam
"One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once 'The Unnecessary War', Winston Churchill." War is a part of every nations history, and our great nation is no different. Winston Churchill made this statement in the 1940's, and less than twenty years later, America had found its way into another 'Unnecessary War'. The Vietnam War was the most highly controversial war that the United States has ever been involved in. Thousands of citizens protested the war, while their sons, friends, and family were fighting and dying across the Pacific. What cannot be captured by a history lesson is how the soldiers felt. Men of all race and backgrounds were being sent off to fight. With racial tension still high in the U.S., how would a black soldier be treated overseas by his white comrades? The award winning poet, Yusef Komunyakaa not only took a tour of duty in Vietnam, he wrote many poems about his experience while in Vietnam. I will analyze Komunyakaa's poem, "Tu Do Street," from a historical perspective to attempt to understand some of the tribulations that an African American soldier would endure during a tour of duty in Vietnam.
Yusef Komunyakaa was born on April 29, 1947, in Bogalusa, Louisiana. The Deep South was very segregated during Komunyakaa's childhood, and he reflects on oppression in many of his poems. After Yusef graduated high school in 1965, he entered the military and began his tour of duty. While enlisted, Yusef began writing for the military papers and became quite good at the journalistic style of writing. After his military years, Komunyakaa attended University of Colorado, and this is where he discovered his talent as a poet. He would eventually earn his M.A. from Colorado State University and Yusef also went on to earn his M.F.A. from the University of California at Irvine in 1980. The 1994 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Yusef Komunyakaa has not...
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Komunyakaa, Yusef. Dien Cai Dau. "Tu Do Street." Wesleyan University Press. University Press of New England. Hanover, NH, 1988.
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Russell, Larry. The Vietnam Helicopter Flight Crew Network.
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