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Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  3,091 ratings  ·  445 reviews
Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is a sustained meditation on that which goes away—loved ones, the seasons, the earth as we know it—that tries to find solace in the processes of the garden and the orchard. That is, this is a book that studies the wisdom of the garden and orchard, those places where all—death, sorrow, loss—is converted into what might, with patience, nourish ...more
Paperback, 102 pages
Published January 7th 2015 by University of Pittsburgh Press
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 ·  3,091 ratings  ·  445 reviews

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Julie Ehlers
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: free-library, poetry
Probably one of the most noteworthy things about Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is that most of these poems are several pages long, and they often start out being about one thing and then pivot somewhere in the middle, revealing they're actually about something else instead of, or in addition to, what you'd thought they were about. You could be reading along happily, smiling at Gay's loving tribute to his next-door neighbor, only to unexpectedly find yourself sobbing. Uh, not that that happened ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2018
Full of joy, hope, and thanks, Ross Gay's Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude consists mostly of speedy celebrations of common things. Echoing the twentieth-century odes of Pablo Neruda, Gay writes long poems made up of short lines that uniformly are in awe of their simple subjects: fig trees, spoons, armpits, feet, ants, drinking water. Images of gardening and farming, bounty and harvest, also link the poems together, as does the poet's tendency to break up his poems' lines in abrupt and unexpected ...more
Laura McNeal
Nov 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don't know when I last read a set of poems that managed to convey such intense joy. I love Gerard Manley Hopkins, and although the comparison is imperfect, I swear I still felt an echo of "The Windhover" in certain lines and stanzas, especially the title poem, which I love intensely. I think it was Roger Rosenblatt who said art requires affection for life, and Ross Gay's affection is infectious here. His poems are like good music, good food, good weather, and good friends coming together at th ...more
I have a little ritual I go through before I read a book of poetry. First, I count the number of poems in the collection. Here it is a nimble 24. Doesn't seem enough to flesh out a full book of poetry (this is not a chapbook), but once you enter, the mystery is solved. Gay mostly writes long, strung-out single-stanza poems, often with lines that consist of 2-6 words.

But back to the ritual. Acknowledgments. Ah, yes. The aspiring poet in me. I want to know where these have seen the light of publi
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a warm-hearted volume of poems that constantly tricked me into tears. The reality of life as loss is very present here, inextricably connected to the joy of life's abundance. The author's experience of gardening inform the poems which are filled with images of the garden, the life and inevitable deaths.

There are so many lines that I treasured. To quote just a few:

and yes, it is spring, if you can't tell
from the words my mind makes
of the world


I swore when I got into this poem I would
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This book of poems was just longlisted for the National Book Award, so I was happy to find a copy in my library.

Ross's poems are very steeped in nature, particularly a farm/orchard childhood (based on what he says). A lot on childhood, relationships, and one very touching tribute to a friend and colleague at Indiana University who was stabbed to death in 2009. (That poem is called "Spoon.")

My favorite little bit comes at the end of the poem "Feet," which starts with his thoughts on his ugly feet
Superstition Review
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ross Gay’s Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is an uplifting and therapeutic poetry collection. He embraces the small things that make life wonderful as he reminisces his past and childhood.
His collection is imbued with beautiful imagery about the natural world; it is compellingly lyrical:

There is, in my yard, a huge and beautiful peach tree.
I planted the thing as a three-foot whip,
a spindly prayer with a tangle of roots so delicate,
so wild, I took ten minutes to feather them apart.

The self-aware n
André Carreira
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am trying, I think, to forgive myself
for something I don't know what.
But what I do know is that I love the moment when the poet says
"I am trying to do this
or I am trying to do that."
Sometimes it's a horseshit trick. But sometimes
it's a way by which the poet says
I wish I could tell you,
truly, of the little factory
in my head: the smokestacks
chuffing, the dandelions
and purslane and willows of sweet clover
prying through the blacktop.
I wish I could tell you
how inside is the steady mumble and cla
Alice Lippart
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2016, poetry
I had quite high expectations for this, but I'm afraid I'm a bit disappointed. Though I found some of the sentences beautiful, especially those depicting nature, I couldn't find a personal connection. I was initially going to give this three stars, but after having thought about it for a few days, very little from this seems to have stuck with me. I do see the talent, but I just didn't find myself captured. ...more
Nov 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, poetry
that was so sweet just. no words heart full
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Poeple who love poetry and people who love nature. Especially poeple who love both.
Recommended to Carol by: That radio interview
Shelves: poetry
I just reread. And found another poem I love - It describes a goldfinch eating sunflower seeds. The scene is a metaphor for love - poem is called (I think) Wedding Poem.

And everything I said before still applies:

I love, love, love this book. It truly lives up to the title.

I plan to quote from several of the poems. Since there's no plot to be revealed, I don't think it's technically a spoiler, but for those who don't want to read excerpts, be advised.

I first heard of this author when I happened t
Hannah Notess
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ross was my professor, so I am not exactly objective, but this book is so good. I wish it won all the awards. The poem "Spoon," an elegy for Don Belton, is unforgettable.

An undercurrent of these poems:
Gratitude and joy can subvert the cruel and racist systems of domination that grind people down. Reveling in beauty &etc.
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
just like an overflowing bucket of human delight/sadness/the spectrum between. i am down with ross gay.
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Happy poems. Especially love Ross Gay writing about gardening and animals and plants. A perfect mid-winter pick-me-up.
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is Ross Gay’s third volume of poetry. It won the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the National Critics Circle Award for Poetry and a finalist for the National Book Award. A native of Youngstown, Ohio, he teaches at Indiana University. He was not a motivated student, but thanks to a few teachers along the way who saw his potential, he eventually earned a BA from Lafayette College, an MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and a PhD in English from Temple University.

This volume of Gay’s
i think that ross gay walks through and sees the world in a very different way than most of us do and yet is so simple, so kindly, so joyful, so tethered to the ground. it is evident in all of his writing, his poetry and his essays. i remember reading the book of delights in february and at times finding myself lost in the rhythm of his sentences, but after making my way through this poetry collection i have come to understand him better. i don’t have many words available to me these days but be ...more
Alessandra Simmons
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ross Gay's newest book reminds me of why I love poetry. The sincerity and precision. The music. The seeing and cataloging what is beautiful and what is perverse. Though every word is well placed and every line well cared for, the poems wander, and wallow, and address themselves, and yet never loose focus. In poems the reader might wonder how she got from sexual innuendo to sharing a meal with small-miracle worker: the bee, and so be forced to re-read and retrace the steps that got her there. Gay ...more
AJ Nolan
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book of poetry! Dripping with love for the natural world and gardening, the book paints pictures of what is beautiful in this world, even when he is writing poems on grieving his father, and the title poem is simply stunning and a must read for everyone.
Peycho Kanev
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
ode to the flute

A man sings
by opening his
mouth a man
sings by opening
his lungs by
turning himself into air
a flute can
be made of a man
nothing is explained
a flute lays
on its side
and prays a wind
might enter it
and make of it
at least
a small final song
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I s loved Gay's essay collection Book of Delights, that I was primed to like his poetry. I was not disappointed. Not as quirky as his essays, the poems ramble across associations, feel intimate, pulse with joy even when bumping up against sorrow and grief. A real pleasure to read. ...more
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a pretty cover!
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
from Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay

Ode to Sleeping in My Clothes

And though I don’t mention it
to my mother
or the doctors
with their white coats
it is, in fact,
a great source of happiness,
for me, as I don’t
even remove my socks,
and will sometimes
even pull up my hood
and slide my hands deep
in my pockets
and probably moreso
than usual look as if something
bad has happened
my heart blasting a last somersault
or some artery parting
like curtains in a theatre
while the cavalry of blood
comes charging
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Devoured this delicious book of poetry during breaks at Soulfire Farm's Black and Latino Farmer Immersion.

I loved listening to, meeting and communing with permaculture poet Ross Gay. There is no substitute for the animated way he reads his work. Definitely go see him reading live if you have the opportunity.

A must-savor collection for anyone who digs nature, gardening, farming, orchards, the outdoors and vibrant imagery. The way Ross sees the world, his divine diction and rhythm, playfully (and
Jul 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
In short, I didn't like this book. Mostly, I didn't like the style. There weren't enough punctuation breaks, so the lines ran into each other and the rhythm got lost. There wasn't a single poem, or even a single line, that I liked. I don't understand why this won awards, to be honest.

Read the review on my blog here.
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This poetry collection deserves all the praise it's received. Humble and charming, Ross Gay sees the beautiful and not-so-beautiful and loves it all. These poems focus on nature, especially the joy of producing things in the garden, as well as friends and family. ...more
David J
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Enticing, refreshing, and a beautiful ode to flora and fauna. Review to come.
Dec 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An impressive collection of reflective poems ( " And the birds I’m talking about are not birds at all,/ but common sorrow made murderous simply by nailing") centered around emotions. The flowers , weeds, insects, birds and trees in the Gay's garden are nothing else than tangible shapes of feelings of optimism, depression, joy, or lamentation given to us through words that follow the musicality of Vivaldi's four season. A chromatic landscape holding tightly in its displays the complex inner world ...more
Haines Eason
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fantastically unabashed and, for this reader, refreshing book per Gay’s unwillingness to adhere to the dry decorum of the contemporary “poetry ‘world.’” Being a gardener as Gay is, the poems land well with me, though I suspect those without green thumbs will also be charmed by this book. These poems are full of light and sorrow and joy, almost evenly mixed, and that combination is all too rare.
Athena Lathos
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is so shimmery with delight and so rife with compassionate ways of looking at the world that it makes me feel like the slimy, self-centered malcontent that I am.

And maybe that was the point? Or at least one of them. Anyway, it's beautiful.

Though I loved the fluid nature of many of Gay's lines, there were several points in the book where that fluidity made it difficult to discern what a given phrase was referring to; so difficult, in fact, that I became distracted from the rhythm and
Aidan Owen
This collection of poetry is nearly perfect. These poems are so lush and beautiful that, with many of them, I had to read them and then reread them slowly to savor the music of Gay's language and let in the joy and reverence he takes in all the details of life. Much of the collection draws on his orchard, and the poems have the quality of that fruit. The words "bursting," "sweet," and "ripe" come to mind. I loved every minute of this collection, and I'm sure I will reread it over and over again. ...more
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Ross Gay is the author of Against Which, Bringing the Shovel Down, and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Orion, the Sun, and elsewhere. He is an associate professor of poetry at Indiana University and teaches in Drew University’s low-residency MFA program in poetry. He also serves on the board of the Bloomington Community Orchard.

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15 likes · 2 comments
“I swore when I got into this poem I would convert
this sorrow into some kind of honey with the little musics
I can sometimes make with these scribbled artifacts
of our desolation.”
“Of course she’s dead: Tina was her name, of leukemia: so I heard—
why else would I try sadly to make music of her unremarkable kindness?
I am trying, I think, to forgive myself
for something I don’t know what.
But what I do know is that I love the moment when the poet says
I am trying to do this
or I am trying to do that.”
More quotes…