Yusef Komunyakaa grew up in the deep south during the dawn of the civil rights movement. He served a tour of duty in Viet Nam, where he was also a writer and the managing editor for the military newspaper, the Southern Cross. He began writing poetry several years after he returned to the US. By 1979, at the age of 32, Komunyakaa had earned a BA, an MA, and an MFA, and had published two collections of poems, Dedications & Other Darkhorses and Lost in the Bonewheel Factory. Komunyakaa won the 1994 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for Neon Vernacular. He is the senior distinguished poet in the graduate writing program at NYU.