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Pulitzer Prize Winner Gregory Pardlo to Discuss Critically Acclaimed New Memoir

Author and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gregory Pardlo will discuss his new book, Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America, Thursday, August 30, at 7:00 p.m., in the Daniel Arts Center at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. The lecture is free and open to the public.

book-one-air-tafficNamed one of “17 Refreshing Books to Read This Summer” by the New York Times, Janet Maslin called Pardlo’s book a haunting memoir. “The book is centered on the troubled relationship between the author and his father, although it roams freely in many other directions….Simple description does not do Pardlo’s story justice; only his own sublime words can achieve that.”

Pardlo’s long-awaited memoir in essays is a blistering meditation on fatherhood, class, education, race, addiction, and ambition. His memoir “is a masterwork, blending personal and family history with a historicized critique on blackness and masculinity. … He uses his father’s role in the infamous air traffic controllers strike of 1981 as a point of departure, and manages to do what only great memoirs of this scale can: to tell a story about himself that is also about America, one that feels true,” according to Vogue, which named it one of the 10 Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2018.

Air Traffic is the 2018 Book One selection at Simon’s Rock. The Book One program asks all first-year students to read a selection by a contemporary living author over the summer and come ready to discuss the book. Book One authors visit campus to share insights into their inspiration and creative process with students and the community, and to hear students’ perspectives on their work. Simon’s Rock’s Book One selection has been included in CommonReads’ most comprehensive list of books for first-year and common reading programs for 2018–2019.

Pardlo’s visit will coincide with the beginning of the fall Guest Writers Series at Simon’s Rock. Students taking Peter Filkins’ Guest Writers class will read Pardlo’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poems, Digest, and will have the opportunity to discuss this acclaimed work with the author.

Gregory is a gifted author, in both prose and poetry. As an interdisciplinary author, he is an excellent choice for the Book One program.

-Peter Filkins,
Faculty in Literature, Bard College at Simon's Rock

Filkins called the Book One Program and Guest Writers Series powerful educational experiences for Simon’s Rock students. “Oftentimes, the authors are the first living writers whose works students have read, and they can ask questions and talk with the authors.” The authors are always impressed with the specifications of the questions, and with detailed back-and-forth conversation, he added.

About the Author

book-one-gregory-pardloPardlo’s poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, Tin House, and two editions of Best American Poetry, as well as anthologies including Angles of Ascent: a Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. He has also translated Niels Lyngsoe’s Pencil of Rays and Spiked Mace. Pardlo is the poetry editor of Virginia Quarterly Review and teaches undergraduate writing at Columbia University. He also serves as an associate editor of Callaloo and is a facilitator of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop.

Pardlo has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, the Lotos Club Foundation, and Cave Canem. His first collection of poems, Totem, was selected by Brenda Hillman for the American Poetry Review/Honickman Prize in 2007.