Associate professor's poetry selected for national competition
Associate professor Ross Gay was selected for the 2015 National Book Awards Longlist for Poetry. He was selected for his book, “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude.”
He is one of 10 poets to be selected; the National Book Foundation will announce the finalists Oct. 14.
“I feel lucky to have the book be amongst a really wonderful bunch of poets and books,” Gay said in an email interview.
His other poetry collections include “Against Which” and “Bringing the Shovel Down,” according to a press release.
Gay said “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” published February 2015, stands out because of its intimate nature.
“My poetry, in this book, is kind of talky and intimate — like it wants to be your friend and tell you stories and ask questions of itself in front of you,” he said in an email. “It kind of wants to hold its heart in its hands (that is a cliche, enjoy it) in front of you, and say, ‘Check this out!’”
A “zillion” things inspired “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” Gay said, ranging from the free-fruit-for-all Bloomington Community Orchard that he is involved in to an incident in his life involving bird poop.
He said the engine of these poems lies in the ways things can possibly be transformed.
“That’s all to say that the strange and undervalued and sexy and gone and unseen and dreamt ... inspire me,” Gay said in an email.
Gay has also co-authored books, including “River” with Richard Wehrenberg, Jr. and “Lace & Pyrite” with Aimee Nezhukumatathil.
He said he writes poems because they are fun, and yet they allow him to connect to his own deeper thinking.
“It is one of the ways I recognize and articulate and interact with my sorrow,” he said. “And my joy.”
Gay said he uses metaphors in his poetry, which are “magic.”
Anyone who is kind enough to read or listen to Gay’s poetry is his intended audience, he said, and he does not take their kindness lightly.
“I cherish it and feel lucky to have any kind of audience,” he said in an email.
He said he hopes these readers take something from his poetry.
“I hope something useful,” he said in an email. “Someone told me they left a reading of mine and smelled flowers for the first time in years. That was pretty good.”
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