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'Air Traffic' With Pulitzer-Winning Poet Gregory Pardlo On Monday's Access Utah

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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.

Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Gregory Pardlo’s new book “Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America” follows Pardlo 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, Pardlo 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 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's ​collection​ Digest (Four Way Books) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His other honors​ include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; his first collection Totem was selected by Brenda Hillman for the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. He is Poetry Editor of Virginia Quarterly Review. “Air Traffic,” a memoir in essays, was released by Knopf in April.

This program is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” Initiative administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils in partnership with the Pulitzer Prizes Board for a collaboration between UPR, Utah Humanities, The Salt Lake Tribune, and The Salt Lake City Library. The initiative seeks to deepen the public’s knowledge and appreciation of the vital connections between democracy, the humanities, journalism, and an informed citizenry. The “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” Initiative is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

 

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996. He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.) He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah.” He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.