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Emily Ryan
The Commons
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Best-selling author, poet Ross Gay to give 2023 Kenneth Spencer Lecture

Wed, 01/18/2023

LAWRENCE – After two years of virtual events, the 2023 Kenneth Spencer Lecture returns to downtown Lawrence this February. The Commons, which hosts the event annually, will welcome poet, essayist, professor and New York Times best-selling author Ross Gay as the 2023 speaker. The event will take place at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at Liberty Hall.

Ross GayGay is the author of four books of poetry: “Against Which”; “Bringing the Shovel Down”; “Be Holding,” winner of the PEN America Literary Jean Stein Award; and “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley and Kate Tufts Poetry Award. His first collection of essays, “The Book of Delights,” was released in 2019 and was a New York Times bestseller. His latest collection of essays, “Inciting Joy” (Algonquin), was released in October 2022. Gay is the co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook “Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens” (2014), and with Richard Wehrenberg Jr. for “River” (2014). His honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Cave Canem and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Gay was born in Youngstown, Ohio. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College, an MFA in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College and a doctorate in English from Temple University. He teaches at Indiana University and in Drew University’s low-residency MFA program.

Commons event poster for Ross Gay appearance on Feb. 16. Image of flowers seated around dining table.He is an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press and is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin’

The Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture is an endowed lecture, dedicated to bringing leading thinkers whose work applies across disciplines to address the University of Kansas and regional communities. In recent years, the lecture series has featured writer/historian Rebecca Solnit, poet/scholar/artist Eve Ewing, activist/writer Jose Antonio Vargas, author/illustrator/screenwriter Jonny Sun, writer/scientist/enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Robin Wall Kimmerer and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

To obtain free tickets for the event, please visit https://www.universe.com/rossgay. Books will be available for sale by the Raven Book Store.

Anyone needing special accommodations may contact The Commons staff for assistance at thecommons@ku.edu.



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