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—Spectral Evidence, 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.”
Gregory Pardlo’s collection Digest won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. 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 and director of the MFA program at Rutgers University-Camden. His most recent book is Air Traffic, a memoir in essays. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.