Talking Dirty to the Gods (Paperback)


By Yusef Komunyakaa

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374527938, 144pp.

Publication Date: September 12, 2001

List Price: 15.00*
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A daredevil poetic achievement nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award

. . . A god isn't worth
A drop of water in the hell of his good

Imagination, if we can't curse
Sunsets & threaten to forsake him
In his storehouse of belladonna,
Tiger hornets, & snakebites.
--from "Meditations in a Swine Yard"

No turn in any life cycle is taboo as Yusef Komunyakaa examines the primal rituals shared by insects, animals, human beings, and deities in Talking Dirty to the Gods. From "Hearsay" to "Heresy," these 132 poems, each consisting of four quatrains, are framed by innuendo and lively satire. Komunyakaa looks to nature and configures his own paradigm, in which an event as commonplace as the jewel wasp laying an egg in a cockroach becomes every bit as grand as Zeus's infidelity. The formally rigorous collection is itself a design for a systematic cosmos, a world compressed but abundant in surprise and delight.

About the Author

Yusef Komunyakaa’s books of poems include Warhorses (FSG, 2008), Taboo (FSG, 2004), and Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize. He teaches at New York University.


Praise For Talking Dirty to the Gods: Poems

“Komunyakaa's mournful surrealism seems to have found a perfect mathematical embodiment in [Talking Dirty to the Gods]...Komunyakaa's lexical and historical range is large, and his improvisations move effortlessly.” —The New Yorker