A series of intimate and captivating interviews by Rachel Zucker with poets and artists about quotidian objects, experiences or obsessions, Commonplace conversations explore the recipes, advice, lists, anecdotes, quotes, politics, phobias, spiritual practices, and other non-Literary forms of knowledge that are vital to an artist’s life and work. One feels, when listening to Commonplace, the pleasure of eavesdropping on the kind of unexpected, intriguing connections that only happen when interesting people sit together in a small room and talk about their real concerns and ordinary lives.

Episode 25: Ross Gay

Episode 25: Ross Gay

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, teacher, gardner and community organizer Ross Gay. Gay is the author of Bringing Down the Shovel, Against Which, River, and Catlog of Unabashed Gratitude which won the Kinglsey Tufts Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Zucker and Gay talk about gardens, seasonal changes, teenage boys, anger, sorrow, stress reduction, and how poems can help you look at difficult emotions. Gay reads from his book Catlog and one of his new, unpublished “delights”. 

Gay and Zucker talk about what they love about long poems and the experience of writing and reading them and other prosy-poemy forms of sustained meditations. They discuss a mutual love for prose by poets and how to teach less from the mode of critique  and more from gratitude and love.


Books by Ross Gay

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (Pitt Poetry Series, 2015)

Bringing the Shovel Down (Pitt Poetry Series, 2011)

Against Which (Cavankerry, 2006)

Lace & Pyrite (with Aimee Nezhukumatathil) (Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Series, 2011)

Books and Other Authors Mentioned in the Episode

Patrick Rosal

Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born (W.W. Norton, 1995)

Sarah Manguso’s prose:

Rachel Zucker’s Mothers (Counterpath, 2013)

Maggie Nelson’s prose:

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen (Graywolf, 2014)

Other Relevant Links

An Anatomy of the Long Poem,” by Rachel Zucker, published on the Academy of American Poets blog

Some Call it Ballin'

Q Avenue

Ledge Mule Press

Bloomington Community Orchard

Episode 26: Alice Notley

Episode 26: Alice Notley

Episode 24: Julie Carr

Episode 24: Julie Carr