Be Holding

A Poem

My Lord. The brilliance, formal dexterity, and deep generosity of this book. This book that makes me rethink what poetry can offer, both in a literary and holistic sense. Ross Gay takes one fluid human gesture and through it expands the lungs of personal and communal history so they might hold all joy, terror, and violence of this world. Be Holding is unlike any poetry book written in recent memory. In this terrible era, Ross Gay has written a book that breathes this broken world in and then returns it to us so we might breathe too. And break. And bloom into whatever it is we are on the path to becoming.
Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Be Holding is a love song to legendary basketball player Julius Erving—known as Dr. J—who dominated courts in the 1970s and ‘80s as a small forward for the Philadelphia ‘76ers. But this book-length poem is more than just an ode to a magnificent athlete. Through a kind of lyric research, or lyric meditation, Ross Gay connects Dr. J’s famously impossible move from the 1980 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers to pick-up basketball and the flying Igbo and the Middle Passage, to photography and surveillance and state violence, to music and personal histories of flight and familial love. Be Holding wonders how the imagination, or how our looking, might make us, or bring us, closer to each other. How our looking might make us reach for each other. And might make us be reaching for each other. And how that reaching might be something like joy.

September, 2020

isbn : 9780822966234

about the author

Ross Gay

Ross Gay teaches poetry at Indiana University and is the author of the poetry collections Against Which, Bringing the Shovel Down, Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens (with Aimee Nezhukumatathil), River (with Rose Wehrenberg), Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, and the essay collection The Book of Delights.

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Ross Gay