Mass Poetry supports poets and poetry in Massachusetts. We help to broaden the audience of poetry readers, bring poetry to readers of all ages and transform people’s lives through inspiring verse. We are a 501(c)(3) organization.
by heather hughes | April 2017
Quite probably, possibly, you know Ross Gay’s name or his poems or both. If you are fortunate, you’ve seen him read before; but if you haven’t, you’re still fortunate, because here comes your chance at Mass Poetry Fest 2017. Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, Gay’s third collection, has been much-feted since its publication in 2015; it was a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry, and winner of both the National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry and the Kingsley Tufts Award. He pulls off what seems, to me, perhaps the most difficult of poetic feats: while making space for sorrow and especially death, Ross Gay captures on the page the glories of sharing this planet with flora and fauna and human, the sheer joy of existence.
Available now by Saddle Road Press
When did you first encounter poetry? How did you discover you wanted to write poems?
Poetry emerged in my life as an expression of the inexpressible. Among the inexpressible was grief after my mother’s death when I was very young. I was an observant child, and the details I remembered were springboards for poems. Many of those details were aural. I imitated the way people spoke: my grandparents, who were from a tiny village near Kiev, my French teacher. I grew up in New York and spent time in the south, where I listened for the differences in dialect from region to region. Dialect remains to this day a hobby. Sit next to me on an airplane, and I’ll tell you where you grew up. Someone fascinated and compelled by the inexpressible and captured by the sound of language—how could I not become a poet?
The festival schedule is live! Join us in downtown Salem for nearly 100 poetry readings and workshops, a small press and literary fair, panels, poetry slams, and open-air readings at the 9th Mass Poetry Festival.
2017 Headliners: Louise Glück · Eileen Myles · Kazim Ali · Andrea Cohen · Cornelius Eady and Rough Magic · Ross Gay · Rigoberto González · Aimee Nezhukumatathil · Emily Pettit · Tom Sleigh · Dara Wier
Soft and young
these babies have no defenses
against the war raging in this apartment.
Door slams reverberate like bullet casings
bouncing on concrete floors.
Hiding under beds to block bombs
disguised as words,
but sounds slip througha
poisonous gas that burns
sense of safety.