Ross Gay

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Ross Gay in 2017

Ross Gay (born August 1, 1974) is an American poet and professor.


  • I was definitely feeling alienated in various ways, and feeling some unarticulated rage and sorrow about a number of things. Once I got introduced to the right poems, I became aware of maybe a way to express those things, articulate them.
  • I feel like over the years, I’ve become more invested in a kind of written spoken voice. And connected to that, that I’m interested in the audience in a different way than I was before. I’m interested in caring for my audience. I don’t mean taking care of them. I mean being understanding. I understand that someone reading something that I’ve written is a generosity.
  • One is that I’m the first reader, and so I’m always writing these poems to myself, and my self — my self as a reader — is someone who wants to be transformed in the process of reading poems. I don’t want to read a poem that I already know.
  • I have inherited this sense that seriousness does not necessarily go with grief, or seriousness does not necessarily go with joy, which to me is not glee, actually. Joy is this very complex, full, rigorous emotion. But yeah, I think the fact that I felt like I was being a little transgressive by titling it that indicates at least something about the way that I’ve come up in contemporary poetry.
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