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Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, Ross Gay (University of Pittsburg, PA: 2015), 102 pp.
I know I have several friends who listen to On Being on public radio every Sunday morning. For many of us, those interviews are "church."
So a couple of weeks ago, Krista Tippett interviewed Ross Gay, an urban activist whose beliefs and service to the community are focussed around community gardens. He's also a poet.
Here's where I recommend his work to both On Being fans and my fellow poets. Ross is a master of the ecstatic, exuberant poem. I know many poets who attempt this form of expression but miss because the poem is coming from a much too self-conscious place. The trick is being in absolute command of the elements of the poetic craft and then sweeping them from the table, getting everything out of the way of the poem itself. (Revision comes later, of course.)
And that's why I'm here to praise the poems in this book. I've never read better in English. This is amazing work. Treat yourself. If you've watched a flock of millions of birds in the sunset, or sat in awe as witness of dervishes twirling between heaven and earth, or been overcome at a symphony performance where everyone on stage is giving their all to their part and it boils up and out of the top of your head in one ecstatic geyser...you have experienced what is going on in the poet's language here.
Many times I will go to the last line of a poem, and if it is just too damn depressing (many time theatrically so, i.e. wallowing in depression) I skip the poem. The poems in this collection are not only well crafted (clever and readable), they are uplifting.
I was assigned this book for a college class, and I am so glad! It is amazing work, and at the risk of sounding melodramatic, it touched me in a profound way. I don't always keep my books from school, but this one will be going on my bookshelf so I can read it again and again!
Wonderful collection. Gay's joyous attention to the loveliness and sadness of life is a balm in a time of otherwise horrid rhetoric. I read it all in one sitting first and then came back to it -- again and again -- for furthering savoring of his languid delivery and tender observations of the world.
One of the most incredible poetry collections ever written. I am stunned by Ross Gay's masterful weaving of ode and elegy, of finding light in the darkest moments, of praising and praising. I carried this with me for an entire year, reading poems aloud to anyone who would let me.
Ross Gay is an original and profound poet who finds the sheer beauty in ordinary things and seemingly ordinary people. Read aloud, it is even better. I have a group of friends, a rotating cast of characters, who get together in own yard to read poetry together, some of it their own, but most of it favorites that people have found. It seems like a different person each time brings Ross Gay's Catalogue of Unabashed Gratitude, and usually picks a different poem to read, and they are all gems. A poet of real genius.
I had to rebuy this book after I forgot who I lent my signed copy to (if you have it, please give it back). Ross Gay is an important and lovely voice for our time. His poetry (and prose . . . Google "some thoughts on mercy") is Psalm-like in that it navigates the human emotional experience from joy to anger to love to sorrow to praise to condemnation in a way that the reader feels he is accessing her own heart's cry.
I have a large collection of contemporary poetry, but this is an entirely new voice, and a new perspective where there are many themes in pone poem, giving both macro and micro views, and then suddenly, at the end, you realize the tenderness of life embedded in the heat of each poem. These are more than "humanistic" poems. These are true poems of living life, not just observing it.