Bringing the Shovel Down

Bringing the Shovel Down

By Ross Gay

University of Pittsburgh Press, Paperback, 9780822961352, 64pp.

Publication Date: January 2011


"Bringing the Shovel Down" is a re-imagination of the violent mythologies of state and power.

About the Author
ROSS GAY was born in Youngstown, Ohio, and grew up outside of Philadelphia. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, and Atlanta Review, among other journals. Ross is a Cave Canem fellow and has been a Breadloaf Tuition Scholar. In addition to holding a Ph.D in American Literature from Temple University, he is a basketball coach, an occasional demolition man, a painter, and a faculty member at New England College's Low-Residency MFA program.

Praise For Bringing the Shovel Down

“Gay . . . can score a direct hit when he wants to. In ‘Bringing the Shovel Down,’ he employs a variety of voices. The most effective of these . . . is the voice in which Gay shears off the ‘poetic’ trappings and just lets his launguage ‘stutter and thrum,” and he puts it in a poem called ‘Say It.’ Yes, you think: say it. He’s at his best when he comes right out with it.”
—New York Times


“These poems speak out of a global consciousness as well as an individual wisdom that is bright with pity, terror, and rage, and which asks the reader to realize that she is not alone—that the grief he carries is not just his own. Gay is a poet of conscience, who echoes Tomas Tranströmer's ‘We do not surrender. But want peace.’”
—Jean Valentine

“Ross Gay is some kind of brilliant latter-day troubadour whose poetry is shaped not only by yearning but also play and scrutiny, melancholy and intensity. I might be shocked by the bold, persistent love throughout Bringing the Shovel Down if I wasn’t so wooed and transformed by it.”
—Terrance Hayes

“With masterful rhythms and multiple tones, Ross Gay gets down to bare-bones difficulty: love often tinged with grief, violence, and deception. He moves from macrocosm to microcosm, probing injustice’s absurdities as well as a pining self that can’t be pinned down. As with his ‘little dreamer, little hard hat, little heartbeat,’ Gay’s poems are vitalized by the poet’s ache for compassion and truth.”
—Ira Sadoff

“Artfully honest. Gay’s poems are ‘small lanterns’ of ‘lighting’ and more.“
—Philadelphia Inquirer

“With language wholly his own, sparkling clean and tender, ‘Bringing the Shovel Down’ exposes a dark marriage of love and violence from which one cannot turn away.”
—ForeWord Magazine

“Blending classic craft with contemporary subject matter, poet Ross Gay’s new collection packs a wallop in its urgency to communication the joys and sorows of life."
—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette