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Gregory Pardlo, Spectral Evidence: Poems

Monday, February 5, 2024 - 6:00 PM | Members' Room | open to the public | $15 per person | registration required

Spectral Evidence is a powerful meditation on Blackness, beauty, faith, and the force of law, from the beloved award-winning author of Digest and Air Traffic. Elegant, profound, and intoxicating, Gregory Pardlo’s first major collection of poetry after winning the Pulitzer Prize for Digest moves fluidly among considerations of the pro-wrestler Owen Hart; Tituba, the only Black woman to be accused of witchcraft during the Salem witch trials; MOVE, the movement and militant separatist group famous for its violent stand-offs with the Philadelphia Police Department (“flames rose like orchids . . . / blocks lay open like egg cartons”); and more.

At times cerebral and at other times warm, inviting and deeply personal, Spectral Evidence compels us to consider how we think about devotion, beauty and art; about the criminalization and death of Black bodies; about justice—and about how these have been inscribed into our present, our history, and the Western canon: “If I could be / the forensic dreamer / . . . / . . . my art would be a mortician’s / paints.”

Booklist's starred review says, “Stunning…. [Pardlo] is adept at wordplay…. Each poem demands to be read on a granular level…. Form, lyricism, and imagery are expertly presented, and the result is a compelling, cohesive collection addressing timely topics. A beautiful addition to Pardlo's already impressive oeuvre.”

Gregory Pardlo's collection Digest won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Pardlo is also the author of Air Traffic, a memoir in essays, and Totem. His poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Playboy, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Nation, The New York Times, and elsewhere. His other honors include fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Pardlo is poetry editor at Virginia Quarterly Review, codirector for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers University, and a visiting associate professor of practice in Literature & Creative writing at NYU Abu Dhabi.