Ross Gay, author of the New York Times best-selling collection of essays, The Book of Delights, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil, winner of a 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry, will both be together and talking with each other, live, in front of an audience—thanks to the magic of technology.
This meeting of literary minds will happen thanks to Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge, which will sponsor their interaction at the 27th annual Virginia Festival of the Book.
Gay will join the session from Ohio and Nezhukumatathil from Mississippi. This year’s festival takes place virtually, March 13-26, 2021. The part featuring Gay and Nezhukumatathil will happen at noon on March 22.
It is one of 43 such events presented as part of the Festival – most of them virtual, but live.
Gay and Nezhukumatathil will discuss their new books – collected essays devoted to their appreciation of ordinary wonders of the world, rendering them extraordinary. Through these short, lyrical essays, the poets fully explore their own places in the world and share what we can gain from being open to its joy and beauty.
Aside from the recent Guggenheim recognition, Nezhukumatathil’s awards include a Mississippi Arts Commission Fellowship grant, inclusion in the Best American Poetry series, a 2009 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship in poetry, and a Pushcart Prize for the poem “Love in the Orangery.” Her poems and essays have appeared in New Voices: Contemporary Poetry from the United States, American Poetry Review, FIELD, Prairie Schooner, Poetry, New England Review, and Tin House. She serves as poetry editor for Orion magazine.
Gay is a recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, and he is a Cave Canem Workshop fellow and a Bread Loaf Writers Conference Tuition Scholar. He received a grant from the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts. His poems have appeared in literary journals and magazines including The American Poetry Review; Harvard Review; Columbia: A Journal of Poetry; Margie: The American Journal of Poetry; and Atlanta Review. His poetry has appeared in anthologies, including From the Fishouse. His work has also appeared in The Paris Review.
Here’s how you can participate: Go the web page for the session, headlined “O Wondrous World! Ross Gay and Aimee Nezhukumatathil in Conversation.” Read about the event, then click on the yellow “Register Here” button. That will take you to an Eventbrite page for registration. Once you’re registered, you’ll receive an email with the information you’ll need to join the event via Zoom.
The event will occur at noon on March 22. An hour before that, you will get another email as a reminder.
Oh, and by the way – you can “attend” the event, indeed the entire Festival, for free.
If you’d like to see what the event will be like, here’s a similar recent event featuring two other authors. And you might want to peruse the Festival’s bookshop page, in case you want to do some relevant reading ahead of time.
The festival is a program of Virginia Humanities. Each year, more than 20,000 people have attended the Virginia Festival of the Book to share love of the written word. Last year’s festival had to be canceled at the last minute, as a result of the pandemic. This one will be stretched out over two weeks instead of the usual five days — and authors will appear virtually.
“We are thrilled to receive support from the Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge community for the 2021 Virginia Festival of the Book,” said Jane B. Kulow, director of the Virginia Center for the Book. “We know many WCBR residents are long-time attendees, and we always welcome new readers! I believe everyone could find something to enjoy in the conversations we present, and especially in the “O Wondrous World!” program that WCBR has selected. 2021 is an excellent year for us all to find joy in the ordinary wonders of nature around us.”