Yusef Komunyakaa, the Global Distinguished Professor of English at New York University, has been selected to receive the 2015 Sidney Lanier Prize for Southern Literature. The prize is awarded by the Center for Southern Studies at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. The prize is given to honor significant lifetime contributions to Southern writing in drama, fiction, or poetry. Professor Komunyakaa will receive the award on April 25 on the Mercer University campus.
David A. Davis, an associate professor of English at Mercer University and chair of the Lanier Prize Committee, stated that “over the course of his career, Yusef Komunyakaa has asked us to look at ourselves and recognize the pain, loss, and occasional beauty that we often overlook. His poems describe Vietnam, the South, and America in ways that illuminate the obscure and complicate the obvious.”
Professor Komunyakaa is a native of Louisiana. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Colorado State University and a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine. He has published several books and poetry collections including Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1993), which won the Pulitzer Prize.