With attention and dedication to curiosity, Ross Gay studies Black joy by practicing delight while recognizing and navigating sorrow: loss and grief; the violence of racism in America; ecological destruction catalyzed by consumerism. In an interview with NPR’s Brittany Luse, Ross Gay notes that joy “attend[s] to models of surviving,” that by “gathering around what [we] love…we imagine the lives we want.” As Tracy K. Smith has affirmed, Ross Gay’s work inspires wonder and illuminates the “countless small miracles that surround us.” His forthcoming essay collection, The Book of (More) Delights (Algonquin) is further testament to how Gay’s observations move us toward hope and give priority to joy.
A prolific New York Times bestselling author, poet, and speaker, Ross Gay has received the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award for his most recent poetry collection Be Holding (University of Pittsburgh Press). Gay’s The Book of Delights is the Smith Reads selection for 2023–24. Gay is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard and currently teaches at Indiana University.
Co-sponsored by the Lecture Committee, CEEDS, Botanic Garden, Environmental Science & Policy Program, the departments of English Language & Literature, Africana Studies, and Biology