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Photograph of author Gregory Pardlo

Gregory Pardlo

Distinguished Visiting Writer 2019

About Gregory Pardlo

Gregory Pardlo's collection Digest (Four Way Books) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; his first collection Totem was selected by Brenda Hillman for the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. He is Poetry Editor of Virginia Quarterly Review and currently teaches in the graduate writing program at Rutgers-Camden University. Air Traffic, a memoir in essays, was released by Knopf in April.

Find Events with Gregory Pardlo

Date: Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 6:30pm
Location: Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W Rio Salado Pkwy, Tempe, AZ 85281
Type & Genre: Craft Talk, Q&A, Talk; Creative Nonfiction, Essays, Fiction, Memoir, Mixed Genre, Poetry

One of the tragic consequences of being confined to a single body is that we will never know what other people experience when they meet us for the first time. We can’t know how someone will register the slight change in the atmosphere that our presence causes when we enter a room. We will never know what another person feels while keeping us company. Memoirist choose to make themselves, someone they can never objectively grasp or fully represent on the page, the primary subject of most of their writing.


More About Gregory Pardlo

Asim, JabariHow a young writer emerged from a troubled past to a PulitzerThe Washington Post, April 17, 2018.

Here it would probably be helpful to mention that the author is now a celebrated poet, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his work in 2015. That fact might explain the frequent emergence of a phrase or metaphor that sparkles with lyricism and imaginative muscle. “I heard the sliding glass door open like the lid on a can of baked beans,” for instance, or “I stared up at clouds bright as teeth in a black light nightclub.”


Pardlo, Gregory. “Gregory Pardlo Reads ‘The Wedding Planners’Poetry Foundation, February 20, 2017

We need a preacher who’ll say up in here instead of herein.
Our vows should reference calla lilies and the snowy pistils they
jab ardently at our faces. Let’s place their linty, foul-mouthed kiss
at the center of satin table cloths white as bee boxes and
us buzzing like the ichthyic insects we’ll invent: “coddle-
fish” finning the air, murmuring for words beyond civil and
ceremony, beyond moderation, all our senses under assault.


Martin, KristenGregory Pardlo on Form, His Father, and Not Writing a Book About RaceLit Hub, April 9, 2018.

Pardlo had sought out the nonfiction MFA program at Columbia not for another degree—he told me that to him, it was a “piece of paper” that comes along with the work—but for the opportunity to work on a book about his father’s legacy of manhood and his own struggle to escape it. That book would become Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America


To Walk a Furlong Original Essay.

My little sublet in the East Village, with the window on the air shaft and its routine accoutrements — 40-ounce beers from the bodega, a tartan sandbag ashtray, and the pigeons on the AC unit, their racket sounding like a cash-counting machine — no longer seemed worthy of my presence when I got home from Cave Canem. I felt like I’d been sanctified by my travails in Detroit. I was too good for my old haunts, too, and reached out to Don, thinking he symbolized all that I aspired to.