Ross Gay

Ross Gay is the New York Times bestselling author of the essay collections The Book of Delights and Inciting Joy and four books of poetry. His Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award; and Be Holding won the 2021 PEN America Jean Stein Book Award. Gay is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project and has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches at Indiana University.

In these gorgeously written and timely pieces, prizewinning poet and author Ross Gay considers the joy we incite when we care for each other, especially during life’s inevitable hardships. Throughout Inciting Joy, he explores how we can practice recognizing that connection, and also, crucially, how we can expand it.
In an era when divisive voices take up so much airspace, Inciting Joy offers a vital alternative: What might be possible if we turn our attention to what brings us together, to what we love?
Taking a clear-eyed look at injustice, political polarization, and the destruction of the natural world, Gay shows us how we might resist, how the study of joy might lead us to a wild, unpredictable, transgressive, and unboundaried solidarity. In fact, it just might help us survive.

I’m reading Simone White’s Or, On Being the Other Woman, Philip Lopate’s Notes on Sontag, Susan Sontag’s Under the Sign of Saturn, David Shield’s The Very Last Interview, Lucille Clifton’s Book of Light (again), and Ama Codjoe’s Bluest Nude. I recommend them all.

My friend John Murillo, author most recently of Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry, who I haven’t seen, either in person or over the alienation machine, for a weirdly long time.

I recommended Geoff Dyer’s The Last Days of Roger Federer to a couple of my friends who dig Bob Dylan, who shows up early in Dyer’s book. I also recommended Lucille Clifton’s Book of Light to a friend who teaches religion, because Clifton writes midrash as well as anyone. I also recommended Nuar Alsadir’s book Animal Joy to a student the other day.

I am watching the Rico Hines basketball workouts on Youtube. And that El DeBarge Tiny Desk Concert.
Inciting Joy by and read by Ross Gay – Audiobook Excerpt