Poetry News

The Rumpus Interviews Ross Gay

By Harriet Staff

At The Rumpus, Ross Gay discusses writing his new book, The Book of Delights (Algonquin, 2019). Hannah Cohen notes that in Gay's preface to Delights, he explains that his "[o]ne hundred and two prose pieces, known as 'essayettes,'" were daily practices. "Do you think having that sort of guideline helped make this the book what it eventually became?" asks Cohen. More:

Ross Gay: I thought it was interesting to give it these guidelines—it did seem that was a way to really lean into the idea that this was a discipline, a practice. I don’t write every single day in my regular life. I get moved and I get obsessed and write like crazy for a couple weeks, and then I kinda don’t for a little bit, but I think there was something about this being a thing of “this is what you’re doing. Do other things, but at least do this near to every day as you possibly can.” It was like a framework. The discipline of the project was the project itself.

Rumpus: There’s this sort of pressure whether it’s from social media online or in writing circles that you have to write every single day, to have a sort of X-Y-Z structure. While that works for some people, clearly that’s not always the most realistic standard.

Gay: I think it’s just different people are different. We’re mostly different at different times of our lives. Even the word discipline, I use it in a certain kind of way. The word I mean is practice. Practice in a way where everything becomes practice. I like the word practice more than the word discipline.

Rumpus: It’s great you mention that because in your essay “Just a Dream,” you discover that the word “essay” is from the old French word for “trial.” You have that great line that says “maybe everything is always only a warm up” ...

Read it all at The Rumpus.

Originally Published: February 11th, 2019