As Bonny and Kat and Sarah and I figure out our plan for poetry postings in April, we usually decide on a couple of topics to focus our poetry selections on . . . and then we decide on a poet that we’d like to introduce to you. This year, we decided to share the poetry of Ross Gay (a particular favorite of mine).

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Ross Gay — author of such popular essay collections as The Book of Delights, Inciting Joy, and his newest offering . . . The Book of (More) Delights. These books are filled with essays, really. Not technically poetry. But really . . . poetry. (He also has several books of actual poetry. . . )

I can’t remember the first time I heard of Ross Gay . . . but I can remember it was a love-at-first-sight kind of thing. First, Ross Gay is a gardener (like . . . a serious gardener!), and many of his poems and essays have a garden-y-grow-y theme, which I love. Second, Ross Gay lives in Bloomington, Indiana and teaches at Indiana University, which is near to my heart and one of my alma maters. (I have a Master’s degree from IU.) And third, well. Ross Gay is a wonderful thinker and writer! Really. (I have never read such captivating footnotes – ever in my life – as the ones he writes in Inciting Joy.)

So. What to share with you today? This was a conundrum for me. He has some really wonderful poems. But. The thing I love most about Ross Gay . . . are his essays. And so, today, I am going to step WAY out . . . and share a brief essay with you. This one is from his newest, The Book of (More) Delights.

7. The Clothesline
Ross Gay

There are so many simple pleasures, simple delights, and maybe the goal, the practice, is to be delighted especially by them, the simplest of things. For instance, today, among the many, I offer the clothesline, not only for its utility, how it keeps the house from getting hot in the summer, how it saves a little energy and burns a little less CO2, but also for how it reminds you that your grandma in northern Minnesota loved to hang her sheets on a clothesline in the winter for how they smelled after they froze, and that your mother loves the smell of anything hung out. But also this, I’m thinking today, as I admire my t-shirts and shorts and drawers and towels blowing in the wind like Tibetan flags, like a ramshackle and sometimes threadbare rainbow: that a clothesline reminds you how often we make of our simple daily labors (hanging clothes, folding clothes, washing dishes, arranging the fridge or the cupboards, chopping veggies or wrapping the bread, sweeping up, or mopping) an art. (Aug 11)

See what I mean? Technically, an essay. But actually poetry!

Thanks for celebrating National Poetry Month with us.
Be sure to visit Bonny, Kat, and Sarah to read more poetry every Thursday in April!


Today’s essay is from my copy of The Book of (More) Delights, by Ross Gay, and published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2023. For more information about today’s poet, Ross Gay, click here.