Poetry News

Ross Gay Interview at Jacket Copy: He Has His Own Orchard!

By Harriet Staff


At Jacket Copy, an interview with Ross Gay on how it feels to be up for so many literary awards with his third collection, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. Abigail Licad asks, "Any expression of “unabashed gratitude” seems an anomaly in today’s highly cynical and ironic age. To what extent was this departure intentional as a form of, say, resistance?" "'Resistance' is not the word I would use. It just struck me that it would be useful for someone to write a catalog of unabashed gratitude as a way to publicly imagine what it means for a person to be adamantly in love with his life."

They also discuss gardening, live performances, and what's on Ross Gay's reading list. Wait, gardening?

Many of your poems in your recent book center on gardens and gardening. Are you a big gardener yourself?

Yes, I’m a gardener. I have my own orchard, and I also work with the Bloomington Community Orchard which has been one of the best experiences of my life. My paternal grandparents were farmers, my partner's a gardener, a few of my best friends are gardeners. I bought a house here in Bloomington that has a big south-facing yard, which is just what I was looking for, and I just started planting. Recently I started growing these plants called goumis, and they’re such a miracle of a plant – they basically make their own fertilizer and they grow like crazy even if you do nothing to them. And they taste unlike any other. It’s unreal to me that I can eat these things right out of my own garden. I also like growing raspberries, Nanking cherries, greens, potatoes – beautiful blue, red or purple potatoes – and garlic, and lots of other things.

Does gardening inform your writing in any way? Can you draw any connections between them?

Sure. I suspect that for one it makes me happy, and I think that's important. And two, there’s probably been nothing else in my life that's trained me to go slow the way gardening has, that’s compelled me to look very closely. Part of the delight of my garden is that you just get lost in it before you’ve even started to do anything. I walk out to my backyard garden at certain times of the year and I can't get 30 feet without stopping for 20 minutes because the goumis need trimming. And then I watch the wasps and notice that the lavender and the thyme right next to it need weeding. I love how my garden is very productive outside of the logic of productivity – it makes a lot of stuff that’s edible and nourishing and all that, but it's also “productive” in ways you wouldn't think necessarily to measure.

Read the full interview at Jacket Copy.

Originally Published: February 12th, 2016