Preview: Ross Gay Poetry Reading

Preview: Ross Gay Poetry Reading

Allison Boyce, Social Media Director

This Thursday, as part of the visiting writer’s series hosted by the Vanderbilt Creative Writing Program, poet Ross Gay will be coming to Vanderbilt to read and perform.  This is truly an opportunity that you do not want to miss if you enjoy poetry, performance poetry, or think you might enjoy getting into poetry but are slightly intimidated.  

Gay is the author of three collections: Against Which, Bringing the Shovel Down, and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude.  His latest collection, Gratitude won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry.  

His poems have appeared in countless acclaimed national anthologies, and he received a fellowship from arguably the most prestigious writer’s conference in the United States, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Gay is an exciting poet on the rise.

Regardless of these incredible honors that Gay has already received at 42 years of age, you should come to his reading not because of his fame but because of the experience that his poetry can offer you.  His poetry is completely unlike most poetry that you’re forced to read in your English class; his style is modern, edgy, and innovative, using striking structure and form.  

Gay’s poetry is unique in that you can sit back and read a full collection leisurely, yet each piece is complex and layered, allowing for close and detailed study for hours.  His poems observe and praise the human experience. Gay addresses his readers directly, encouraging open conversation and interaction with them; do not be surprised when he speaks to you in his poems, or when he analyzes his own style within the poems themselves.  

Gay’s poetry reading will be nothing less than a celebration of writing and an expression of unabashed gratitude for the mundane but beautiful aspects of life.  Francis J. Harris of the Poetry Foundation says of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, “Gratitude feels like the first time you open the window in spring. That first chilly air. The sun on the sill.”  Come to see Gay perform at 7 pm on Thursday to open the window and observe the sun on the sill, amongst other things.   

Great starter poems to get your feet wet with Gay’s writing: “Feet”, “Ode to Buttoning and Unbuttoning My Shirt”, “Spoon”, and “Last Will and Testament”.   

For more information about Gay and his poems and readings, visit