Ross Gay joined The Center for Fiction for a celebration and investigation of the complexities and beauty of joy, asking how to recognize it—and even more crucially—how to expand it. In Inciting Joy, an intimate and electrifying collection of essays from the New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Delights, Gay considers the joy we incite when we care for each other, especially during life’s inevitable hardships. With curiosity and compassion, Gay thinks about the garden as a laboratory of mutual aid, skateboarding’s reclamation of public space, the costs of masculinity, and what was healed in caring for his father as he was dying. Author Simone White (or, on being the other woman) joined him in conversation, exploring the possibility of collective joy and liberation.
Presented with Poets & Writers.
By Ross Gay
Published by Algonquin Books
In these gorgeously written and timely pieces, prize-winning poet and author Ross Gay considers the joy we incite when we care for each other, especially during life’s inevitable hardships. Throughout Inciting Joy, he explores how we can practice recognizing that connection, and also, crucially, how we expand it.
In “We Kin” he thinks about the garden (especially around August, when the zucchini and tomatoes come on) as a laboratory of mutual aid; in “Share Your Bucket” he explores skateboarding’s reclamation of public space; he considers the costs of masculinity in “Grief Suite”; and in “Through My Tears I Saw,” he recognizes what was healed in caring for his father as he was dying.
In an era when divisive voices take up so much air space, Inciting Joy offers a vital alternative: What might be possible if we turn our attention to what brings us together, to what we love? Full of energy, curiosity, and compassion, Inciting Joy is essential reading from one of our most brilliant writers.
Ross Gay is the New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Delights: Essays and four books of poetry. His Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Award; and Be Holding won the 2021 PEN America Jean Stein Book Award. He is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. Gay has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He teaches at Indiana University.
Photo Credit: Natasha Komoda
Simone White is the author of or, on being the other woman (Duke University Press, 2022), Dear Angel of Death (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018), Of Being Dispersed (Futurepoem, 2016), and House Envy of All the World (Factory School, 2010). Her poetry and prose have been featured in Artforum, e-flux, Harper’s magazine, BOMB magazine, Chicago Review, and the New York Times Book Review, among other places. She teaches in the English department at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Brooklyn.