Gregory Pardlo, Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America, with Lisa Lucas
Where: The New York Society Library
53 E. 79th St.
212-288-6900 Price: $15.00
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Gregory Pardlo’s father was a brilliant and charismatic man – a leading labor organizer who presided over a happy suburban family of four. But when he loses his job following the famous air traffic controllers’ strike of 1981, he succumbs to addiction and exhausts the family’s money on more and more ostentatious whims. In the face of this troubling model and disillusioned presence in the household, young Gregory rebels. Struggling to distinguish himself on his own terms, he hustles off to Marine Corps boot camp. He moves across the world, returning to the United States only to take a job as a manager-cum-barfly at his family’s jazz club.
Air Traffic follows Gregory as he builds a life that honors his history without allowing it to define his future. Slowly, he embraces the challenges of being a poet, a son, and a father as he enters recovery for alcoholism and tends to his family. In this memoir, written in lyrical and sparkling prose, Gregory tries to free himself from the overwhelming expectations of race and class, and from the tempting yet ruinous legacy of American masculinity. Air Traffic is a richly realized, deeply felt ode to one man’s remarkable father, to fatherhood, and to the frustrating yet redemptive ties of family. It is also a scrupulous, searing examination of how manhood can be fashioned in our cultural landscape.
Gregory Pardlo is the author of Digest, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Digest was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award, named a standout book by the Academy of American Poets, a New York Times best poetry book of the year, and a finalist for the Hurston Wright Legacy Award and INDIEFAB Book of the Year. Gregory Pardlo’s other awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. His first poetry collection, Totem, won the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize in 2007. He is Poetry Editor of Virginia Quarterly Review.
Lisa Lucas is the Executive Director of the National Book Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as the Publisher of the not-for-profit magazineGuernica and as Director of Education at the Tribeca Film Institute, on the development team at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, and as a consultant for the Sundance Institute, San Francisco Film Society, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and ReelWorks Teen Filmmaking. Lucas also serves on the literary council of the Brooklyn Book Festival.Buy tickets/get more info now