Gregory Pardlo

Gregory Pardlo

I was encouraged to hear that a Pulitzer prize-winning poet, Gregory Pardlo, had not had it easy. A family history of alcoholism and the rejection of his writing by major publishers did not deter Mr Pardlo. Such perseverance has to be applauded and marvelled at.

I wonder if his route to poetry was helped by the experience of translating Danish poetry (by Niels Lyngso) into English.

Here is a taste of his writing:

Written by Himself
By Gregory Pardlo
I was born in minutes in a roadside kitchen a skillet
whispering my name. I was born to rainwater and lye;
I was born across the river where I
was borrowed with clothespins, a harrow tooth,
broadsides sewn in my shoes. I returned, though
it please you, through no fault of my own,
pockets filled with coffee grounds and eggshells.
I was born still and superstitious; I bore an unexpected burden.
I gave birth, I gave blessing, I gave rise to suspicion.
I was born abandoned outdoors in the heat-shaped air,
air drifting like spirits and old windows.
I was born a fraction and a cipher and a ledger entry;
I was an index of first lines when I was born.
I was born waist-deep stubborn in the water crying
ain’t I a woman and a brother I was born
to this hall of mirrors, this horror story I was
born with a prologue of references, pursued
by mosquitoes and thieves, I was born passing
off the problem of the twentieth century: I was born.
I read minds before I could read fishes and loaves;
I walked a piece of the way alone before I was born.

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