The editors are seeking poems, letters, personal and critical essays to be considered for an anthology to be published by Wesleyan University Press, celebrating the life and work of internationally acclaimed poet and professor Yusef Komunyakaa.

In May 2019, Cave Canem Foundation and the New York University Creative Writing Program, in partnership with the PEN World Voices Festival, held a day-long celebration of the life and work of one of the most impactful American poets of the last half century. Yusef Komunyakaa: A Celebration brought together a veritable Who’s Who of contemporary American poetry, to honor a poet who, it turns out, is as beloved for his teaching and mentorship as he is celebrated for his creative work. Presenters included such established poets as Pulitzer Prize winners Sharon Olds, Tyehimba Jess, and Gregory Pardlo, as well as a cadre of rising stars such as Ishion Hutchinson, Jenny Xie, and Javier Zamora. This anthology—working title, Dear, Yusef: Essays, Letters and Poems For and About One Mr. Komunyakaa—follows in the spirit of that day-long symposium, as well as the recently published lyric essay by Terrance Hayes, “Everyday Mojo Letters to Yusef” (Boston Review, June 18, 2021) and Pardlo’s “Dear Yusef Komunyakaa: On Neon Vernacular and the Long Half-Life of Double Consciousness” (LitHub, August 19, 2019). This anthology will include these and a number of other essays, poems, open letters, and other creative and critical offerings from fellow poets, former students, literary critics, and admirers.

Submission Guidelines

The publisher welcomes original poems, letters, critical and personal essays of any length. Both unpublished and previously published work is welcome providing authors retain North American rights. Submissions from writers who identify as trans, gender non-conforming, non-binary or women are strongly encouraged.

Only submissions sent in Microsoft Word format will be considered.

Submission deadline is August 1, 2022. Authors should allow 6-8 weeks for the selection process.

Please send submissions and questions to dearyusefanthology@gmail.com.

Authors will be compensated $50 and two complimentary copies of published anthology.

Yusef Komunyakaa is the author of nearly twenty volumes of poetry and prose, and his plays and librettos have been performed to international acclaim. His honors include the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, the Wallace Steven Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lily Poetry Prize, and the William Faulkner Prize from the University de Rennes among others. He has served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999-2005 and has taught in the Cave Canem workshop/retreat, as well as at many universities including the University of New Orleans, Indiana University, Princeton University, and New York University where he currently serves as Distinguished Senior Poet in the creative writing program.
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About the Editors:

John Murillo is the author of the poetry collections Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher 2010, Four Way Books 2020), finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the PEN Open Book Award, and Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way 2020), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Poetry Society of Virginia’s North American Book Award, and finalist for the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry and the NAACP Image Award. His other honors include the Four Quartets Prize from the T.S. Eliot Foundation and the Poetry Society of America, two Larry Neal Writers Awards, a pair of Pushcart Prizes, the J Howard and Barbara MJ Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, an NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. Recent poems have appeared in such publications as American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Best American Poetry 2017, 2019, and 2020. He is an assistant professor of English and director of the creative writing program at Wesleyan University.

Born in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and raised in Apopka, Florida, Nicole Sealey is the author of Ordinary Beast, finalist for the PEN Open Book and Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. Her honors include the 2021 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, the 2021 Granum Foundation Prize, a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, the Stanley Kunitz Memorial and Poetry International Prizes, as well as fellowships from the Bogliasco Foundation, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CantoMundo, Cave Canem, The Hermitage Artist Retreat, MacDowell, the National Endowment and New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Poetry Project. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry 2018 and 2021. She is a visiting professor at Boston University and teaches in the MFA Writers Workshop in Paris program at New York University.