It was announced today that Gregory Pardlo was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Pardlo's second volume of poetry — Digest — was cited as having, "clear-voiced poems that bring readers the news from 21st Century America, rich with thought, ideas and histories public and private."
Pardlo's publisher, Four Way Books states, "From Epicurus to Sam Cook, the Daily News to Roots, Digest draws from the present and the past to form an intellectual, American identity. In poems that forge their own styles and strategies, we experience dialogues between the written word and other
art forms. Within this dialogue we hear Ben Jonson, we meet police K-9s, and we find children negotiating a sense of the world through a father’s eyes and through their own."
Also nominated as finalists in this category were: Reel to Reel, by Alan Shapiro (University of Chicago Press), finely crafted poems with a composure that cannot conceal the troubled terrain they traverse; and Compass Rose, by Arthur Sze (Copper Canyon Press), a collection in which the poet uses capacious intelligence and lyrical power to offer a dazzling picture of our inter-connected world.
Chalk Dust on the Air
Our hero explains what lines behave as waves
also behave as particles depending upon the presence
of observers, a market of admirers, etc. Think of sifted
sands Tibetan monks spend months to whisk in minutes:
their attack on nostalgia. Think of Milky Ways of water
damage on the bedroom ceiling. The Apollo module
on the dresser and the Ring Nebula is the blur where
Mom tried to clean expletives crayoned on the wall.
Whorls beyond, imagine a can of Krylon ship-shaped
with braided-rubber-band-propeller roped out to
the nosebleeds in the murk of heaven's hood. The spray
can tags earth's dewy rooftop with synesthetic stars,
foamy scars that welt the blue and melt like meringue
in the dusk, a residue of light in the periphery. Winged seeds
from silver maples at the feet of unshaven sheriffs
offering fists of baby's breath. They smile with cigar stubs
plugging the breach. Renegade lines unleash the hounds,
shake the weight of undressed eyes. When some lines try
to pass for the color behind the color they came in, our hero
attempts no intervention. When he orders the lines disperse,
one sheriff's bullhorn blast unsacks a rain of feathers
— Gregory Pardlo
Chalk Dust on the Air is from the author's Pulitzer Prize winning collection, Digest. In winning the 2015 Pulitzer, "for a distinguished volume of original verse by an American author," Gregory Pardlo wins $10,000.
His first book, Totem, received the American Poetry Review/ Honickman Prize in 2007. Pardlo's poetry has also been featured in a dozen anthologies. An associate editor of Callaloo, he is currently a teaching fellow in Undergraduate Writing at Columbia University.
A collection of his poems are available for reading on his website.