MSU welcomes acclaimed author Ross Gay to annual Writer-in-Residence program


Contact person: John Burrow

Photo submitted by Natasha Komoda

STARKVILLE, Mississippi—Mississippi State University welcomes award-winning author Ross Gay for an upcoming virtual Writer-in-Residence Program, an annual event on the campus of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Gay is the author of the New York Times best-selling essay collection “The Book of Delights” (Algonquin Books, 2019), as well as several collections of poetry, including award-winning “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude” (2015). the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He is also a professor of English at Indiana University Bloomington.

Gay will read selections from his poetry and answer questions during the March 1 event at 7:30 p.m., which is free and open to the public, on the Institute’s Facebook page, /msu.humanities. institute.

Mississippi Poet Laureate and MSU English Professor Catherine Pierce will host a Q&A after the program, which each year connects renowned authors with MSU students and the general public for mentorship and writing training.

This project is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Humanities Council as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. The annual Writer-in-Residence program is organized by the college’s Institute of Humanities and the Department of English.

“While in residence, Ross Gay will give a public reading, visit a classroom, meet with students, and lead a community writing event,” Pierce said.

“Ross is a brilliant poet and essayist, and one of the most dynamic and exciting writers,” she continued. “His clear and incisive work explores genuine joy and pleasure alongside injustice and grief. I think our whole community will benefit immensely from the opportunity to hear and learn from this incredible writer.

In addition to the public reading, Gay will join Pierce on March 3 at 7:30 p.m. for a virtual writing workshop, also free and open to the public.

“Ross’s poetry is honest and personal, but also accessible, meaningful and uplifting,” said institute director and associate professor of history Julia Osman.

Osman said the workshop is for “anyone who loves to write, from practicing writers to word lovers.” To register, visit the Institute for Humanities website at

“Ross and Katie will talk writing with attendees and provide writing prompts and encourage people to share their words,” Osman said. “It’s a great way for people who write in their spare time, or who have enjoyed writing, to identify with Ross and Katie as fellow writers.”

In addition to “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” Gay is the author of three other collections of poetry: “Against Which,” a 2006 CavanKerry Press publication; and the University of Pittsburgh Press publications “Bringing the Shovel Down” (2011) and “Be Holding” (2020).

Gay co-wrote “Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens” with Aimee Nezhukumatathil. He co-wrote with Richard Wehrenberg the book of chapters “River”. He is the founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin’. He is also a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-for-all food justice and joy project.

As part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Humanities Institute is active on social media on Instagram @msstatehumanities, Twitter @Humanities_MSU, and Facebook

MSU’s English department is online at, or on social media on Facebook @MississippiStateEnglish and Twitter @MSStateEnglish.

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences houses the most diverse units for research and scholarly pursuits, including natural and physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and humanities. For more details about the college, visit

MSU is the main university in Mississippi, available online at

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