Ross Gay on Understanding Delight Through Sadness
From the Thresholds Podcast, Hosted by Jordan Kisner
This is Thresholds, a series of conversations with writers about experiences that completely turned them upside down, disoriented them in their lives, changed them, and changed how and why they wanted to write. Hosted by Jordan Kisner, author of the new essay collection, Thin Places, and brought to you by Lit Hub Radio.
On today’s episode, Jordan talks to Ross Gay about his essay collection The Book of Delights. In the conversation, Ross talks about learning to look sadness in the face as a necessary prerequisite to understanding or even experiencing delight.
From the interview:
Ross Gay: I realized, oh, I would do anything to get out of sadness, all kinds of things, whether it be, you know, turning to rage or turn into paranoia or turn into any kind of distraction that revealed to me a kind of fundamental terror, the terror of sadness, which felt to me like, if you can’t touch sadness, you’re going to miss something.
In addition to The Book of Delights, Ross Gay is the author of three books of poetry, including Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Catalog was also a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, the Ohioana Book Award, the Balcones Poetry Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call It Ballin’ and founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a nonprofit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. Gay has received fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches at Indiana University.