My guest this week is poet and professor Dr. Ross Gay. I loved Ross’s recent book, The Book of Delights (affiliate link), which we talked a lot about in this episode. I think you’ll be able to hear how much I enjoyed talking with Ross and hearing his insights into joy, sorrow, loss, love—toward the end I was really moved by his description of self-love, and why it’s often so difficult. Hopefully this conversation will inspire you to look for everyday delights in your own life. Other topics we discussed included:
- The delight we can find in simply noticing
- How often things can “flummox us with beauty” when we pay attention
- Readings from Ross’s most recent book
- The delight that comes from the removal of pain or unhappiness
- The power that our emotions and mindset have on our interpretations of what we notice
- The inextricability of joy and suffering/death
- Loss and change as fundamental features of our lives
- Joy as the experience of something delightful in the midst of what is sorrowful
- How to hold each other up in times of sorrow
- The Scandinavian concept of hygge and its overlap with delight
- Experiencing de-alienation from others as a lighting up of joy
- The simplicity that inheres in delight
- The nuanced and intimate conversation between writer and reader
- The possibility of positive public touch between strangers
- The “constant and subtle caretaking” we extend toward one another
- The overlap between joy and love
- The vulnerability in expressing love for something or someone
- The risk in remaining committed to loving oneself
Ross Gay, PhD, is a professor of English at Indiana University—my undergraduate alma mater—in Bloomington, Indiana. In addition to The Book of Delights, Ross is the author of three books of poetry (affiliate links): Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, which won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.
Ross is a founding editor of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin’, in addition to being an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press. He has received multiple fellowships, including from the Guggenheim Foundation.
We didn’t have time to talk about our shared love of gardening in this episode, but Ross is an avid gardener and founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project.
Find Ross online at his website.