So often the scars are the detritus of attempting not to be the Earth. It’s the violence that arrives from separation.
When our personal and collective struggle overwhelms our spirits, many of us find solace in unexpected pleasures. Do you smile as the apple juice runs down your chin or does the network of seeds inside your favorite squash arrest your attention? Celebrated writers, Ross Gay and adrienne maree brown, explore how their practices of reveling the comforts small joys bring have brought about individual and collective transformation.
- How are you connecting your creative life to nature’s cycles?
- What power are you finding in pleasure?
- How do you archive your joy for future reference and celebration?
Reading and listening recommendations for those seeking wisdom in small joys
Who do you go to for your joy? Who are you going to for your influences? Who are the people who have helped to shape the kind of writing that you’re doing?
Ross Gays’ inspiration:
- Audre Lorde, Poetry Is Not A Luxury, Uses of the Erotic
- Toni Morrison
- Jamaica Kincaid
- John Edgar Wideman
- Eryka Badu
- John Coltrain
- Gerald Stern
- Thomas Lux
- Marie Howe
- Yusef Komunyakaa
- Toi Dericotte, The Black Notebook
- Rebecca Solnit
- Saidiya Hartman, Wayward Lives Beautiful Experiments and Lose Your Mother
- Fred Moten and Stephano Harney, The Undercommons
- Luther Vandross’ cover of Dionne Warwick’s House Is Not a Home.
- Al Jurraeu’s version of Blue Rondo Ala Turk
- The Wiz
adrienne maree brown’s list of inspiration:
- Audre Lorde
- Toni Morrison
- Nina Simone
- Octavia Butler
- Grace Lee Boggs
- David Blair
- Maya Angelo
- Malcolm X
- Imani Perry, Looking for Lorainne
- Janine de Novais
- Nandi Comer, American Family
- Ross Gay, Book of Delights
Ross Gay is the author of four books of poetry: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; Be Holding; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His new poem, Be Holding, was released from the University of Pittsburgh Press in September of 2020. His collection of essays, The Book of Delights, was released by Algonquin Books in 2019.
adrienne maree brown is the writer-in-residence at the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, and author of Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation, We Will Not Cancel Us and Other Dreams of Transformative Justice, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements and How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office. She is the co-host of the How to Survive the End of the World, Octavia’s Parables, and Emergent Strategy podcasts.