As graduation approaches, we interview M.F.A. graduate Samson Dikeman. Samson not only took the class, but he also was able to have Pardlo as one of the readers for his thesis in poetry.
Gregory Pardlo was a visiting writer at The College of Saint Rose and you took his class. How do you think his insight and teaching techniques affected or changed your work?
Greg Pardlo was a wonderful teacher to have. I think the thing I took away from his class more than anything else is the realization that you must challenge yourself on every word in your poem. You have to ask if the word is right for for the poem and if not, replace it. It helped me cut out a lot of fluff in my poems.
What made you choose Pardlo to be one of your readers for your thesis?
I chose Pardlo as one of my readers because of his expertise. You get the sense when you work with him that he has a tremendous gift for reading poetry and identifying what is making it tick. He knows the right questions to ask and I felt like I needed that for my thesis project.
How did the news of Pardlo receiving the Pulitzer affect you? How did you feel? What were your thoughts?
When I found out that Pardlo won the Pulitzer, I was like a giddy schoolgirl (If that’s still PC); it was amazing. I went around and started telling everyone about it. It’s such a great honor for him. Digest is a wonderful book; I’m very happy for him.
Do you have any poems of Pardlo’s that you would recommend a reader check out?
As far as poems to read, definitely check out Digest from Four Way Books . As far as individual poems, I love “Problema 4” from Digest and “Written By Himself,” which was published in Best American Poetry 2010 and can be read online.