Poet Ross Gay Discusses How The Pandemic Has Given “The Book Of Delights” New Meaning

Ahead of his virtual appearance at the 2021 Midwest Literary Walk, Ross Gay says we should dwell on the little things that delight us.

The 2021 Midwest Literary Walk is a virtual event on Saturday, April 24. Among the acclaimed authors speaking is Ross Gay, a 2015 National Book Awards finalist and author of “Against Which,” “Bringing the Shovel Down” and “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude.” He’ll be discussing his recent celebrated book, “The Book of Delights.” You can hear Gay speak at the event at 2:30 p.m. April 24.  

“The word [delight] kind of sounds like what it means … almost like a lightbulb going off. There is something about curiosity … it’s connected to wonder.” –Ross Gay, author of “The Book of Delights”

Listen: Poet Ross Gay on why he expresses joy and love.



Ross Gay is an award-winning poet. His most recent work is titled “The Book of Delights,” a book of essays written from experiences of delight over the course of a year. He says he was inspired from how the sound of the word made him feel. “The word [delight] kind of sounds like what it means … almost like a lightbulb going off. There is something about curiosity … it’s connected to wonder.”

In order to write purely from the heart, Gay says he set parameters for himself. “The process of writing the book was to [have these 3 rules]: write every day … write by hand … and write them quickly. I drafted these essays in 30 minutes,” he says. 

“The Book of Delights” was written before the pandemic, but Gay says this year has given the work a new meaning. “The book was published in February 2019, but there’s a different relationship to the book [now] because we have had to consider what it means to feel delight or joy or sorrow.”

The book also features essays on what it means to be a Black man. “Any sort of limitation on what our emotional lives might be … I’m not gonna agree with. I feel delight, I feel joy, I feel gratitude … but I think part of what I learned over the course of this book … was noticing, articulating and sharing. That feels like survival.”

Web story written by Nora Rhein

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