National Poetry Month has been a time for spoken words, limericks and pindaric odes. With only a couple of days left to celebrate the month of versifiers, I’d like to share another poem from the Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn-based writer, Gregory Pardlo. What makes Pardlo so special? He is the winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his book Digest.
Yeah, I never heard of him either until I saw the news trending in my Twitter feed. Alexandra Alter of The New York Times wrote an exceptionally detailed article on the 46-year-old MFA student, which highlights his love for writing, poetry and a little glimpse into how he became the talk of the town in his circle of writers. (see: Gregory Pardlo, Pulitzer Winner for Poetry, on His Sudden Fame)
But before you click away to get the details of Pardlo, here’s one of the poems from his Pulitzer Prize poetry book Digest.
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.