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3.99  ·  Rating details ·  428 ratings  ·  65 reviews
From Epicurus to Sam Cook, the Daily News to Roots, Digest draws from the present and the past to form an intellectual, American identity. In poems that forge their own styles and strategies, we experience dialogues between the written word and other art forms. Within this dialogue we hear Ben Jonson, we meet police K-9s, and we find children negotiating a sense of the wor ...more
Paperback, 75 pages
Published October 7th 2014 by Four Way Books
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3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  428 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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My personal Pulitzer reading challenge continues with the 2015 winner for poetry, Digest by Gregory Pardlo. A gifted poet based out of Brooklyn and teaching undergraduate writing at Columbia University, Pardlo is a gem of a writer who should not be overlooked when discussing contemporary poetry. His work has been praised as including "images that glimmer" by current poet laureate Tracy K. Smith and is an ambitious cross-section of modern poetry and couplets, and is a treat to read for literary f ...more
Jee Koh
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Intellectually challenging, the volume gives no quarter to the reader not up to scratch on Western philosophy, African American history, and popular culture. The music of the poems very often carries me through seas of incomprehension. It is a wry, knowing, and, yes, tragic voice. The last because it understands the situation of loneliness. Despite family, communal, and intellectual ties, the speaker feels his loneliness in the marrow. He makes me feel again mine.
Cheryl Gatling
The thing that made me pick this book off the shelf was the blurb on the back that promised "engaged, intelligent poetry, with its exuberant range of cultural and historical references." Good, I thought. I like writing that is smart, and that makes me think.

In that, Pardlo delivers as advertised. There are references to Sojourner Truth, Frederick Law Olmstead, Gouverneur Morris (one of the Founding Fathers), Spinoza, Abraham from the Bible, Robert Johnson, Gaugin, Chinua Achebe, and that is only
William Owen
Apr 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I thought two things when I heard about this book - damn, why has this been out for a year and I haven't caught wind of it yet - and two, well duh, of course this won the Pulitzer.

I saw Gregory read the first time about eight years ago at the Poetry Project. After his reading I started a poetry reading review site I was so impressed by the work. I've had the chance to see him read one other time since then, and I've considered him the finest reader of poetry I've encountered in my time. I've loo
C. Varn
Aug 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Pardlo's diversity of reference is actually a little dizzying for such a popular volume of poetry: yet the line this book walks between narrative and personal lyric keeps this volume grounded in an unexpected way. Pardlo's vision of Brooklyn and his own biography ground this book that slips in and out of complicated American identity. Like Claudia Rankine's Citizen, which is thematically more direct and angry but less autobiographical, this book interrogates Americanness, Otherness, and blacknes ...more
Sara Sams
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poemz
Well, it does read as a sort of poetic digest-- which is on the one hand exciting and far-reaching; on the other hand, I find myself clinging to the strongest voices in the book and wanting more of each. Thus is my pesky desire for story, for connection.

There are some stunners, for sure: "Occam" in "The Conatus Improvisations" & "Wishing Well" & "Raisin..." (I see a pattern in my preferences-- the poems of closer and therefore more tender moments). I have a feeling this book would expand
Peter Landau
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Gregory Pardlo offers a kaleidoscope of daddy issues in DIGEST. But there’s more. He has a beautiful, dare I say poetic, way with language that mixes high and low culture with ease and insight. But he isn’t abstract. His poems are rooted in place, whether that be Brooklyn, Atlantic City or outside the Met. But he’s also cerebral in the best way, in dialogue with his relations, his history and his intellectual ancestors. In that sense, Pardlo is part of a great lineage. Like those giants on whose ...more
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A powerful collection of diverse poems which is justly deserving of all the acclaim it has garnered. I especially enjoyed the series of poems that he links together by a common thread. One series of poems, for instance, begins with each one being kick started by a quote by a famous historical personage (St. Augustine, for instance). In fact, Mr. Pardlo's poems are effectively drenched with historical references. I love the way that Pardlo gives deeply of himself in each well constructed verse.
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
My eyes practically bounced off the lines in this book of exceptionally dense poems. Everything the reviewers say is true, about thr way Parlo engages these large epistemological and historical arguments. But the result are poems that are dense, and for me, not musical or especially poetic. Rather, these read like logic puzzles or philosophical arguments waged via association. It's definitely part of a tradition, through Eliot and others. It just wasn't for me.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
"You are stranded
at the limit, extremity and restriction,
jealous for that elusive—the domestic, yes,
you’re thinking: not the brick and mortar, but
the quickening backfill of belonging, the stranger-
facing, the neighbor-knowing confidence and ease
with the ripple that diminishes as it extends
over the vast potential of immovable thirst."

— Selection from "Marginalia"
Rita Reese
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Will definitely read it again.
Ash Ponders
May 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poems
Astonished and a perhaps a bit ashamed I did not love this. I found little to inhabit, moments though obviously authentic, slipped by as alien as ever.
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I cannot wait to teach this one!
Andrea Goldston
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it
It's perfectly possible that I don't understand something fundamental about poetry, or that I am viewing it too narrowly, but I have read some poetry lately with very many words that required me to have the dictionary on hand to know their meanings and pronunciations. I say this with some frustration because I studied literature in school, and I wonder if I cannot understand this language, who can? PhDs? I don't know. I'm frustrated with writing that renders itself inaccessible to readers with c ...more
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I took my time reading this. I believe one reads poetry differently than literary fiction or prose. Pardlo’s sense of history is strong and I found those poems in which he evokes history the most powerful. I admit this as my bias as a historian. The book exhibits Pardlo’s range as a poet writing comfortably with allusions to African-American history and culture as well as drawing from Hegel and Kierkegaard. One other aspect I appreciate about some of these poems are references to Pardlo’s person ...more
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you’re looking for poetry you can read through on the first try and “get it”, then this is not a book for you. If you don’t want to spend time with your poems, staring into each other’s eyes and discovering new features and shades over the course of days and days, then this not a book for you. Pardlo’s poems are dense, complex, and full of meaning that one must sit with for extended periods of time to mine. It is well worth the effort, and I know I will keep coming back to this book over and ...more
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-books

This collection reminds me why I need to read poetry on a regular basis. Poetry means being surgical with words and generous with interpretation. Pardlo writes so well. There are a lot of references to classical works that, had I been more familiar with these, might have enriched my reading further, but I didn't feel like I couldn't enjoy this poetry without that knowledge. I look forward to reading more of Pardlo's works.
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry-authors
Filled with wonderful allusions and incredible use of language. It also is a bit of the more difficult side of contemporary poetry in that much of it seems to make no sense, but it is quite a ride. And he is a great reader in public.
Jonathan Tennis
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really loved this collection. Was great to read this after reading a few really bad books.

My favorite poems were:
“Problema 3” on p. 13
“Alienation Effects” on pgs. 48-57
“Philadelphia, Negro” on pgs. 37-38
“Wishing Well” on p. 67-68
“For Which It Stands” on p. 63-64
Keith Taylor
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved the range of reference in this book -- that coupled with the completely personal moments of narrative. It was a strong and unique combination. Here's a short review I did of it
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fantastic collection of poems. Pardlo's ability to pull together themes and ideas from seemingly every aspect of time and culture is remarkable. And despite the density of his references, his work is accessible and relatable.
Deirdre Fagan
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Reading, one experiences the presence of greatness. Pardlo could have won a Pulitzer on the basis of “Alienation Effects” alone. The collection demonstrates remarkable stylistic range and perception.
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Poetic depictions of scenes from the author’s life and descriptions of things that matter to him.
Joe Imwalle
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A master of language and wordplay and wit and image. Several favorite poems now dog eared for repeat readings. I’m glad I picked this book back up after some years. Will return again.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved it. The kind of poetry I want to have some read out loud to me again and again. It's beautiful on the level of the images and plots, with many layers of meaning and connection beyond.
Nov 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
A few gems but too often short of the mark. Too bad.
Matthew Talamini
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I suppose I would call this collection of poems 'panoramic'. There are views of everything, from everywhere. Very interesting.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Oversold by a podcast trio.
Muhammad Rajab
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Whatever—Pardlo must be a genius!
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers of intellectual poetry, students of African American literature/culture
Recommended to Richard by: Pulitzer Committee through the NYT
I liked the book. I kept returning to it in search of music which surely is present but which requires slow and attentive reading, sometimes out loud. "Ghost in the Machine: Synergy and the Dialogic System" presents a number of characteristics of the volume: prose poem, academic/intellectual content (a mock course description) infested with popular cultural elements, pinball for example; reread the title, then listen to these opening lines:

"Self-effacing, the number zero stands austere, a window
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  • The Black Maria
  • 3 Sections
  • Failure
  • Ozone Journal
  • The Book of Goodbyes
  • Black Zodiac
  • King Me
  • Elegy for a Broken Machine: Poems
  • Duende
  • Head Off & Split
  • Wind in a Box
  • Book of Hours: Poems
  • From the New World: Poems 1976-2012
  • Forest Primeval
  • The Best of It: New and Selected Poems
  • Time and Materials
  • Words for Empty and Words for Full
  • Repair
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