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About this poet

Ross Gay was born on August 1, 1974 in Youngstown, Ohio. He received a BA in English/Art from  Lafayette College, an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and a PhD in English from Temple University.

He is the author of three collections of poetry: Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kingsley Tufts Award, Bringing the Shovel Down (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011), and Against Which (Cavankerry Press, 2006).

Gay is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin', and an editor of the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press.

His honors include fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

He currently teaches at Indiana University and in Drew University's Low-Residency MFA program in Poetry and Poetry in Translation. 


Bibliography
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)
Bringing the Shovel Down (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011)
Against Which (Cavankerry Press, 2006).
 

ode to the puritan in me

There is a puritan in me
the brim of whose
hat is so sharp
it could cut
your tongue out
with a brow
so furrowed you
could plant beets
or turnips or
something of course
good for storing
he has not taken a nap
since he was two years old
because he detests
sloth above all
he is maybe the only real person
I’ve ever heard
say “sloth” or “detest”
in conversation
he reads poetry
the puritan in me
with an X-Acto knife in his calloused hand
if not a stick of dynamite
and if the puritan in me sees
two cats making
whoopee in the barn
I think not
because they get
in the way
or scare the crows
but more precisely
because he thinks it is worthless
the angles of animals
fucking freely
in the open air
he will blast them to smithereens
I should tell you
the puritan in me always carries a shotgun
he wants to punish the world I suppose
because he feels he needs punishing
for who knows how many unpunishable things
like the times as a boy he’d sneak shirtless between the cows
to haul his tongue across the saltlick
or how he’d study his dozing granny’s instep
like it was the map of his county
or the spring nights he’d sneak to the garden behind the sleeping house
and strip naked
while upon him lathered the small song
of the ants rasping their tongues
across the peonies’ sap, making of his body
a flower-dappled tree
while above him the heavens wheeled and his tongue
drowsed slack as a creek,
on the banks of which, there he is,
right now, the puritan in me
tossing his shotgun into the cattails,
taking off his boots, and washing his feet
in that water.

Copyright © 2015 by Ross Gay. From catalog of unabashed gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Copyright © 2015 by Ross Gay. From catalog of unabashed gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database.

Ross Gay

Ross Gay

Ross Gay is the author of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kingsley Tufts Award.

by this poet

poem

Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue

poem
Was with the pudgy hands of a thirteen-year-old
that I took the marble of his head
just barely balanced on his reedy neck
and with the brute tutelage
of years fighting the neighbor kids
and too the lightning of my father's
stiff palm I leaned the boy's head
full force into the rattly pane of glass
on the school
poem

Tumbling through the
city in my
mind without once
looking up
the racket in
the lugwork probably
rehearsing some
stupid thing I
said or did
some crime or
other the city they
say is a lonely
place until yes
the sound of sweeping
and a woman