Before you listen to this interview, it might be worth following this link over to YouTube and looking up Dr J’s reverse layup. It is, quite possibly, the greatest basketball move of all time. Got that in your head? Good, because today’s episode of Inner States is about a book-length poem that springs off from that move and then returns to it, again and again. It’s about what it meant for Dr J to change directions in midair, to pivot in flight, and also what it means for us to witness that. And to witness Black pain, and Black joy, and so much more.
Today on Inner States, Ross Gay talks about his book-length poem Be Holding with my colleague, host of WFIU's Earth Eats, Kayte Young. Ross Gay is the author of four books of poetry: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and Be Holding, which won the Pen America Jean Stein Award. His first collection of essays, The Book of Delights, was released in 2019 and was a New York Times bestseller. His new collection of essays, Inciting Joy, will be released by Algonquin in October of 2022, and I expect we’ll have him on again to talk about that. In the meantime, I'm happy to present this conversation Ross had with Kayte Young in 2020 about sports, digression, witnessing, and how your body becomes what you study.
Our theme song is by Amy Oelsner and Justin Vollmar. We have additional music from the artists at Universal Production Music.