American Southern Great Chain of Being in Yusef Komunyakaa’s Magic City

Grzegorz Kość

University of Warsaw, Poland

Grzegorz Kość is an Associate Professor teaching American literature, and the Director of the American Studies Center at the University of Warsaw, Poland. He is the author of two critical books—Robert Lowell: Uncomfortable Epigone of the Grands Maîtres (Peter Lang, 2005) and Robert Frost’s Political Body (Camden House, 2014). Recently, he has contributed essays to Papers on Language and Literature, Partial Answers, Wallace Stevens Journal, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, and College Literature. Most importantly, he has coedited, with Steven Gould Axelrod, Lowell’s Memoirs, a new edition of the poet’s autobiographical prose published in 2022 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Besides, Kość has now coedited—with Thomas Austenfeld of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland—Robert Lowell in Context for Cambridge University Press (2024).


https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7504-3879



Abstract

This paper reviews the various modes of racist, sexist, classist, ageist, and interspecific oppression as well as occasional transgressions in the city of Bogalusa, Louisiana, as they are dramatized in the poetry of Yusef Komunyakaa, particularly in his 1992 memoirist volume Magic City. More than anything else, Komunyakaa remembers from his childhood days the discourses and practices of violence and control aimed at maintaining a rigid hierarchical structure regulating order between all forms of life and preserving the sense of identity of many. It is a realm of unrelenting terror in which all creatures must succumb to a regime bringing to mind the medieval great chain of being. Komunyakaa investigates thoroughly Southern morals to determine the extent of psychological and epistemic damage they cause.

 

Keywords:

Yusef Komunyakaa, Louisiana, racism, existentialism, chain of being

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Published
2024-06-06


Kość, G. (2024) “American Southern Great Chain of Being in Yusef Komunyakaa’s Magic City ”, Crossroads. A Journal of English Studies, (44), pp. 53–65. Available at: https://czasopisma.filologia.uwb.edu.pl/index.php/c/article/view/2255 (Accessed: 16 July 2024).

Grzegorz Kość 
University of Warsaw, Poland

Grzegorz Kość is an Associate Professor teaching American literature, and the Director of the American Studies Center at the University of Warsaw, Poland. He is the author of two critical books—Robert Lowell: Uncomfortable Epigone of the Grands Maîtres (Peter Lang, 2005) and Robert Frost’s Political Body (Camden House, 2014). Recently, he has contributed essays to Papers on Language and Literature, Partial Answers, Wallace Stevens Journal, a/b: Auto/Biography Studies, and College Literature. Most importantly, he has coedited, with Steven Gould Axelrod, Lowell’s Memoirs, a new edition of the poet’s autobiographical prose published in 2022 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Besides, Kość has now coedited—with Thomas Austenfeld of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland—Robert Lowell in Context for Cambridge University Press (2024).

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7504-3879