Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude is a sustained meditation on that which goes away - loved ones, the seasons, the earth as we know it - that tries to find solace in the processes of the garden and the orchard. That is, this is a book that studies the wisdom of the garden and orchard, those places where all - death, sorrow, loss - is converted into what might, with patience, nourish us. Winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award.
Gay's poems burst forth in leggy, unexpected ways, zooming in on legs furred with pollen or soil breast-stroking into the xylem. Gay's praise is Whitmanesque, full of manure, mulberry-stained purple bird poop, dirty clothes and hangovers, but also the pleasure of bare feet, of pruning a peach tree, of feeding a neighbor ... Whether you're feeling like you have an whole brass band of gratitude or if you're feeling like you only have rusty horn, read this book. Gay even thanks you for reading it, saying I can't stop my gratitude, which includes, dear reader, you for staying here with me, for moving your lips just so as I speak.
This book, which so beautifully celebrates, no revels in, the poet's relationship to the earth, to his garden, to the people of his community, to family—I want to suggest in this national moment, it strikes me as breath ... But this gratitude, the thankfulness of this book, steeped in a grounded mindfulness, in a sincerity some might call grit, Gratitude feels like the first time you open the window in spring ... Nothing quite prepares you for the emotional spectrum of Gratitude. By the time I get to the pivotal poem called 'The Opening,' I am ruined.
...these simple, joyful poems read like a litany of what's good in the world ... Gay welcomes readers into his garden—for playful strolls, for the work of pruning and harvesting—to bear witness to a mind working its hardest to appreciate the world ... Gay's incessant positivity takes a toll even on him, as evidenced by his occasional lament that he can't actually feel gratitude about or make beauty from the worst things in life ... though these poems don't translate perfectly to the page, they're inspiring nonetheless.