ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Loud and Convincing Voice

An account of a personal encounter with Gregory Pardlo, the American poet who won the 2015 Pulitzer prize in poetry for his collection Digest.

It’s not an everyday business composing poetry with a word such as “alligator,” which literally thrashes about its metaphorical tail and yawns in your face as in a challenge. Neither is it customary to be asked at poetry workshops to simply read out the poems submitted and not made to jump into doing a “critique” even before one understood the poems.

Listening to sounds, the cadence of the syntax, and the valence of words and expressions—this is what I had encountered in that workshop one summer, inside a rearranged medium-sized classroom at Rutgers University (RU), Camden, New Jersey, the US. A tall lanky man—not thin, really—with a very broad smile, stood shifting on his feet in the middle of the room as though someone had forgotten to place a chair for him. It was the smile that instantly drew me to like him. More so, when we were told the owner of easy manners was Gregory Pardlo, a young poet from Brooklyn.

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