Whose I Is It? with Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes, Michael Gaspeny, Tyree Daye, moderated by Coen Cauthen, UpStage Cabaret, Triad Stage, Saturday, 11:15 a.m.; The Book of Delights, Van Dyke Performance Space, Greensboro Cultural Center, Saturday, 2 p.m.
Through the course of a year, Ross Gay details instances of joy from his life: an interaction with a praying mantis, noticing a volunteer crossing guard in a school zone or the uplifting words on a sign out front of a church.
Compiled, these moments become The Book of Delights, an assemblage of lyrical essays containing Gay’s personal musings on joy. On Saturday, Gay will read passages from his essays at the Van Dyke Performance Space in the Greensboro Cultural Center.
“When I think of joy,” Gay says, “I think of a feeling that is tied up completely with love.”
As Gay ruminates on joy, he dives into its inner mechanisms. The work gracefully borders on the philosophical, balanced by Gay’s natural tone. The writing acts as a magnifying glass, exploring the details and implications behind seemingly simple, small moments. The writing habit honed what Gay refers to as his “delight radar.”
“It did make it clear to me that my study, my real study,” Gay says, “is joy.”
Gay’s writing keeps a spirit of wonder, acknowledging the charm of the often overlooked. Throughout the pages, Gay contemplates all of the forms this joy takes. He stops to survey black bumblebees as they pollinate flowers, or bobbleheads as they rapidly nod. There’s an element of nostalgia, as Gay intersperses the text with memories related to the subjects.
Among these topics, he discusses race, grief and consumerism. Each chapter feels like a conversation, a brief glimpse into the complexities of emotion. The layers within these ponderings make them almost visceral, reminding the reader of the beauty which surrounds them.
Gay has authored three poetry books, Against Which, Bringing the Shovel Down and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. His third earned the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2015 and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award in 2016.
Find the full 2019 GSO Bound schedule here.