Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth: New and Selected Poems, 2001–2021

Farrar. Mar. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780374600136. $35. POETRY
Pulitzer Prize winner Komunyakaa’s latest (after The Emperor of Water Clocks) offers a generous selection of poems culled from his last five collections, along with a dozen new pieces. As he has for more than four decades, the poet exercises his distinctive ability to unite past with present, the personal with the universal. Centered in the Black experience in America, Komunyakaa’s vision—like Whitman’s—encompasses the wide scope of humanity, from the earliest known human ancestor (“we rose from Lucy / to clan, from clan to tribe, & today / we worship her sun-polished bones / remembering she is made of questions”), to “souls laboring in sweatshops,” to contemporary migrants lost at sea (“Searchlights spot the dead / hugging the living”). Komunyakaa’s economical mode of expression nevertheless gives full play to the weight, depth, and musicality of his subjects, and it serves him well in poems of memory that telescope straight to the heart, which speaks like “a talking drum / under the skin.”
VERDICT For those unfamiliar with Komunyakaa, this volume offers a rich sampling of his postmillennial work. For his fans, it further enforces his reputation as an important and necessary American poet.
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