By Flapper Press Poetry Café:
The Flapper Press Poetry Café continues a new series of articles about favorite lines of poetry and the poets who wrote them. We’re reaching out to poets, writers, and lovers of poetry to submit their favorite lines of poetry and tell us why you love them.
Check out our submission guidelines and send us your favorites!
We'll feature your submission sometime this year on our site!
This week, our submission comes from Flapper Press contributor Maril Crabree.
From Maril Crabtree:
There’s one outstanding reason why I love Ross Gay’s poems: they make me feel glad to be alive. They are full of the intimate joy of being human. They extol the ordinary and transform the extravagant into the commonplace. The operative word here is “feel.” Reading a Ross Gay poem is a whole-body emotional experience.
Begin with his famous “To the Fig Tree on 9th and Christian,” which narrates the story of an ordinary neighborhood fig tree and what happens when people get together to gather the figs on the sidewalk beneath. I dare you not to break into a grin somewhere about two-thirds along and be full-on gleefully smiling by the end, or maybe, as I did the first time I read it, both smiling and crying.
Ross Gay’s facility with image, sound, and sensory detail bring yet more life to be bitten into, munched on, even swallowed whole. When I read him, I feel like I’m in the living room of his soul.
It’s almost impossible to choose one or two lines from his poetry. He writes in sheer run-on mountainous breathless phrases. That said, I’ll give you a small chunk from the "fig tree" poem:
I was a little tipsy on the dance of the velvety heart rolling in my mouth pulling me down and down into the oldest countries of my body where I ate my first fig from the hand of a man who escaped his country by swimming through the night
Acclaimed poet and writer Ross Gay has authored four books of poetry, three collections of essays, and is the winner of numerous awards, including the PEN American Literary Jean Stein Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His work deals with intensity of emotion, his language vivid and visceral. Gay's body of work turns its focus to family, friendship, and life's complexity, both sorrowful and full of joy.
To read more about Ross Gay and his work:
Maril Crabtree’s book Fireflies in the Gathering Dark received the 2018 Kansas Notable Books award and was finalist for the AAUW Thorpe Menn Literary Excellence Award. Her work has appeared in journals such as Kalliope, Earth’s Daughters, I-70 Review, The DMQ Review, Coal City Review, and Adanna. She served as poetry editor for Kansas City Voices and contributing editor for Heartland! Poems of Love, Resistance & Solidarity.