Ep. 264 Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay — The Stacks Book Club (Clint Smith) – Transcript

Poet and Above Ground author Clint Smith returns to discuss our April book club selection Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, a poetry collection by Ross Gay. We discuss the moment of the book’s release and why it’s important within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement. We also argue that successfully engaging with a poem doesn’t require understanding what a poem is about, and we ask how much the author’s intent actually matters in poetry.

Be sure to listen to the end of today’s episode to find out what our book club pick will be for May 2023.


Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Overcast | Stitcher

*Due to the nature of podcast advertising, these timestamps are not 100% accurate and will vary.

Traci Thomas 0:08
Welcome to The Stacks, a podcast about books and the people who read them. I’m your host Traci Thomas and it is the last Wednesday of the month, which means it’s the Stacks book club day. We’re joined again by Clint Smith, who is the author of the instant New York Times Best Selling poetry collection Above Ground. And in order to celebrate National Poetry Month, our book club pick is Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, an award-winning collection of poems by Ross Gay released in 2015. It is a beautiful meditation on the ephemeral nature of love and life, and it’s rooted in the imagery of nature itself. Today, Clint and I talk about the context that this collection was written in how we connect with poetry, and so much more. If you’re intimidated by poetry. I promise this episode is for you. And there are no spoilers on today’s episode. Make sure to listen to the end of today’s episode to find out what our May book club selection will be. Quick reminder, everything we talked about on each episode of the stacks can be found in the link in the show notes. And if you love the stacks, and you want more bookish goodness, check out the stats pack on Patreon patreon.com/the stacks for just $5 a month, you can join our incredible community on Discord, get our bonus episodes, join our monthly virtual book club chats and so much more. And you get to know that you’re a part of making this black woman run independent book podcast a reality every single week. I could not make the show without the stacks pack. So if you liked the show and you want to hear more of it every single week, go to patreon.com/the stacks and join special shout out to our newest members of the stacks pack. Sarah Thacker and Tracy. Not me. Another Tracy. Thank you all so much. And thank you to the entire stacks pack. And now it’s time for my conversation with Clint Smith about Ross Gay’s poetry collection, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude.

Alright, everybody, it is The Stacks book club day. And we are joined again by Clint Smith, author of Above Ground, a brand new poetry collection and also How the Word is Passed, which is his narrative nonfiction, which I’m sure many of you have heard of, because he’s already on the show about that. And today, we are talking about Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay. Clint, welcome back.

Clint Smith 2:24
It’s good to be back.

Traci Thomas 2:26
I’m thrilled to have you to talk about poetry because poetry, I always feel intimidated and you’re a poet, so you’ll know the vibes. But for people who don’t know anything about this book, catalog of unabashed gratitude is a collection of poems that sort of spans gratitude and joy. But also, there’s some grief in here in some major ways. And it’s a collection of poems from Ross Gaye. And some of you will know Ross Gaye from his more recent books, The Book of delights, and inciting joy, which are has two latest books, which aren’t poetry collections, they’re like essay collections. Okay, we always start here, generally, what did you think of the book?

Clint Smith 3:05
I love this book. And this book is one that I think came out in 2015. And I remember, you know, it was critically acclaimed National Book Award finalists, I think it was also a finalist for the National might have wanted to win the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Traci Thomas 3:22
It won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, and the Kingsley tufts poetry award, and then was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Clint Smith 3:32
On my cover, all the I’ve only got the cheat sheet. So a couple of things. I remember reading this book, and part of why it was so important was because it was a moment in which there was this, you know, Ross is like six, five, like, he’s a six, five black man with a ponytail. And like, who loves gardening and talking about his favorite type of plum, and it’s the end just like, but But you know, in the, in our previous episode, part of what we talked about was the holding of interpersonal moments of joy, amid a larger backdrop of grief and mourning. And so this book came out in the early days of the Black Lives Matter movement, in which again, we were sort of incessantly inundated with these images of violence against black people so often at the hands of state sanctioned forces. And there’s so many of us, we were, we were writing into that space. We were excavating this space, we were and I think necessarily so right, it was, it was so important for us to have books that were talking about the history of policing, so important for us to talk to have books that were outlining how the impact this had on black people’s bodies to see this all the time, so important for us to have books that were wrestling with the larger lineage of violence that what we were seeing It was a part of. And this book kind of came into the world. And I don’t think any of us knew how much we needed it, because it was a book by a black man who was leaning into an writing about the small, granular quotidian joys of life. And you know, there are poems in here that are like Ode to buttoning my shirt, old, oh, to sleeping in my clothes. And it was just, I’m gonna start saying weak, because I’m sure he didn’t speak for myself. But even though I think it is reflective of how many people thought of it, I, it was so important for me to read that book in that moment, because it was a reminder for me, before we moved into this phase of like, black joy and black, you know, and which is, I think, a rejection, or an attempt at an attempt to counterweight to all of the violence, all the oppression like we are more than our history of violence, we are more than a history of oppression, which is absolutely true. And I think now there has been a sort of swing to, to write more about joy, right? More about the expansiveness of the black experience, which is very important. We need books about all of those things. But this entered in a moment, where it felt so important to have a book not even that was like, that was saying, like, I’m a tall, large black man writing about joy. But that just was right. Like, it was just just was it was just him saying, look at the world around us. Like how remarkable it is, like, look, look at the fig tree. Like look at it, you know, I mean, he goes on for pages about this fishing, right, and like, and manure on his hands and being in his garden, and conversations with his elders. And, and to your point, it’s not to say that there aren’t moments and we can talk about those of larger socio political analysis and grief and mourning. But it was, it was just so refreshing, because it was a reminder that we are more, and we can write about more than the violence that was inflicted on us, which feels, you know, it’s this is seven years later. So saying that, even as I say it out loud, feels more like self evident, because then then maybe it felt at the time, because now we’re like, Oh, of course, like you have people write about all sorts of types of blackness is hetero, you know, there’s like heterogeneity to the black experience, we wrote about this, and that, and this and that. But in a moment where we all felt so oriented, as black writers to say, to use our, our writing, to name and to shame and to carry the weight of this history, there was this book that was like, yes, and don’t forget what a miracle it is to like, wake up each day, and be alive and in any, in its own way, raise the stakes of what was happening around it, because so many of the people who are killed at the hands, please like it is not only that they are killed. It’s not only the spectacle of what has been taken away through their death, but it’s also that they will never button their shirt again, right, they will never sleep fall asleep in their clothes. Again, they will never look at the fig tree again. So it is in its own way. It was this reminder of why life is so precious, and helped give a sense of like, this is what was taken away from so many of these people who we we see who were being killed.

Traci Thomas 8:52
So, okay, what is annoying to me about you is that you’ve already changed my entire opinion about this book. In those first few minutes. I struggled a little bit with this book, I gotta be honest, I talked about this a lot about my relationship to poetry, and I tweeted about it a little bit, which is that I don’t feel super secure in my reading of poetry. And in this specific way, which is, when a poet is speaking to exactly a thing that I can understand what they’re talking about, and I can relate to it, I can enjoy a poem, but I really struggle to read a poem by an old white guy from 1852 or you know, a poem about being a firefighter or whatever, because I just don’t get it. So I have no understanding of like, you know, we use this analogy of the tree last time and like stopping and looking at the tree is as if someone is writing a poem about a kind of tree I’ve literally never seen and I don’t have the imagination and the understanding of poetry, to be able to like critique or think about poems in the way that I could read a novel or a piece of non fiction about something about a firefighter and be like, Oh, I get it. Like, the the abstract reification of life through a poem is very, very, very challenging for me. And so for this book, there were moments like lines or like, sections of poems where I would be like, Oh, holy shit, holy shit, I’m here, I’m here, I’m here. And then I would like lose it, or I would feel like I don’t know where he went. And so there were so when I went back to like, prepare for this conversation. There were so many notes that I had taken where I was like, oh, yeah, I did love that moment. But I couldn’t tell you what poem it was from or like, I couldn’t tell you what the poem was about. I could just remember like, the way he described like eating the plum. I was like, Oh, this is an iconic moment. For me. It was it was a really hard collection for me, because I never usually, like there’s one or two full poems where I’m like, Oh, my God, I’m fully here. And I didn’t have any poem that I could remember from this. But I did again, have these moments. And I was there were things I was impressed by, like, I was really impressed by his sort of meandering style where he’d like start a poem in one place. And all of a sudden, by the end, I was like, nine pages later, I was like, how did we get here? Like, where are we and I think that’s part of what was hard for me is like, oftentimes, I’m used to poems where it’s like, this is a poem about my dog. And it’s like, Fido is my dog. And then we end and it’s like, that’s why I love Fido. And I’m, like, Great, I’m here. But with this would be like, here’s a poem about Fido. And then it would end and be like, I had a bagel and cream cheese. And I’m like, Where the fuck is vital like i. So I think like, and that’s not to say anything bad about the poems or the collection. But it is part of my, like, ongoing struggle with poetry. And I think like, the context that you gave is really helpful for me to think about this collection. Because I didn’t I it didn’t really occur to me like, Oh, yes, 2015 Of course, like this is coming out into a world of like, all of these murders and this like spectacle of black death. So yeah.

Clint Smith 12:04
So do you remember by chance there being a poem, it was it went kind of viral on the internet. It’s called a small needful fact, by Ross Gaye, no. listeners might remember, it was very short poem that came out after Eric Garner’s non indictment. And it’s interesting, because this is a point that’s not in the book.

Traci Thomas 12:29
But here I have it, I’m gonna just read it really quickly. Is that okay? I’ll read it out loud. A small needful fact is that Eric Garner worked for some time for the Parks and Rec Horticulture Department, which means perhaps that with his very large hands, perhaps and all likelihood he put gently into the earth, some plants, which most likely some of them in all likelihood, continue to grow, continue to do what such plants do, like house and feed small, unnecessary creatures, like being pleasant to touch and smell, like converting sunlight into food, like making it easier for us to breathe. That I understand.

Clint Smith 13:04
There you go. And I guess, you know, it’s interesting to make the connection between the moment and Ross’s work. I think that poem, part of why it went as viral as it did was because it was a reminder of Eric Garner’s humanity, right. And a reminder again, not that he that he was not just this abstraction, of an idea that he was not even not even that he was just this man that we saw on the television or newsfeeds. But it’s a sort of it’s it’s like the act of imagining that maybe Eric Garner is someone who likes to work, who worked in gardens, and who put his hands into the earth, and who, you know, again, these sort of small things that are, maybe it was his job, maybe it was something he liked. But I think what Ross’s work does, is like leans into the facets of our humanity that we might otherwise overlook in so many ways, this book, in his work more broadly, was an inspiration for the sort of sensibilities of my own book above ground, which I could feel Yeah, and I could feel and I think that it because it is, part of what I wanted to do was like, lean into the things that might be like everyday occurrences, or no regular occurrences that if I don’t, for myself, like stop and take note of stop, and in this case, like stop, write a poem about because in so many ways, that’s how I take notice of things is writing a poem about them, then then I risk losing in appreciation for this thing that is otherwise within self, a sort of small miracle. I do hear you on the I have this sort of stream of consciousness of the poem is both one of the things that can draw you into it, but also that can take you out of it, because it it is moving in so many different directions. And it’s interesting, you know, it reminds me of a writer we both love so much is a doer keeps work in the way that I remember reading, little devil in America. Yeah. And this, I mean, this is but if you read all of his essays, and many of his poems, it’s like this like, it begins you think you’re reading? A better example is like, in this first book of essays, like you think you’re reading a book about, or an essay about Carly Rae Jepsen. Yeah.

Traci Thomas 15:39
And then you’re like, that’s the one that popped into my head.

Clint Smith 15:40
Oh, man, this book this year, like this is not really about Carly Rae Jepsen are not just about, right, because it just moves like, the thing about a nice mind and Ross’s mind is the way that the connections that they establish to these things that ostensibly have nothing to do with what the poem or the essay is about. And yet, you know, you read an essay and you’re like Carly Rae Jepsen, space travel, the first moonwalk, the soul train line. The first time my mother made me a pancake, the you know, and then suddenly, you’re like, how do we how do we get to the like, how did we get to Pluto from the NEA?

Traci Thomas 16:20
Well, yeah, part of the reason that I feel like Hanif works for me, which is sort of what I was getting at before about my weakness and poetry is that I know about honey. So I knew some biology biographical information about honeybee life, we’re of the same age, we have a lot of the same cultural references. And I don’t have that background on Ross Gaye. And so I couldn’t always figure out what he was talking like, quite literally, I was like, I don’t know what this is in reference to. And so like, I struggled at the I’ve talked about this at length, because we did a little double in America on the podcast. But when I first read the book, the first essay, I was like, I have no fucking reader, like, I literally was like, the first essay is like the soltrain essay, or whatever. And I was like, Are the dance marathons or something? And I was like, I have no clue what this is, I do not get it. And then when I finished the first essay, and went to the second essay, then I was like, oh, and then when I finished the book, I went back to the first essay is almost exact same thing I did with South to America by Imani Perry, because she’s another writer, who does this thing where she’s pulling, and I think, again, is their, it’s their strength. But when it’s a nonfiction book, for me, it’s easier because I’m like, Okay, this is what we’re talking about, like this chapter is called Soul Train, at least I have some grounding. And so I think, with poetry, you know, because I people get mad at me when I’m self deprecating, but I’ve talked about how I’m like, I’m not good at poetry. And I was tweeting about this the other day, and a woman was like, I actually think you’re really good at understanding poetry and whatever. And my response to her was, like, I think that to be like a good critic of something, you have to be able to read something that you don’t understand or doesn’t speak directly to you and be able to have an opinion about that as well. And so I’m not there yet. For poetry. As I read this book, it reminded me that I’m like, I’m not there. Like, I don’t. And Roscoe isn’t super far from me, and age or, you know, he’s a black American, like, it’s not like, we’re, I’m talking about Walt Whitman or something. Right? Like, it’s just that it’s, it just doesn’t it? I lack the imagination more, and I think in some ways,

Clint Smith 18:28
I don’t, I don’t know, I think that what we should do is like, write poetry, there’s so many different ways to experience a poem. And it does and for some poems, and, and I say this, you know, someone who’s, who is a poetry because poetry for a while, there’s some poems that I read. And like, I have no idea what that poem was about, right? Like, I don’t I, and I’ll read it again. And Blake still got no clue read it again, like, and, and these are sometimes points from people, I love people, I respect people who mean a lot to me. And I, and I don’t, quote unquote, understand what the poem is about. But part of what I think is important to remember is that like, to successfully engage with a poem does not simply mean or does not only mean that you should understand what the poem is about, right, like, and I think about this in the context of music, it is wild, how many songs I like, listened to as a kid. And then I mean, we might have even talked about this in and then you go back and you’re like, like, I was just talking about this with a friend. I had so many 90s r&b songs, and I that I listened to, oh my God, and you’re like this. This song is about an erection. Right? Like, yeah, and you and I know, but like there was, it wasn’t about sometimes with music. And I think sometimes we put a pressure are on poetry that we don’t put on other genres, where it’s like, we have to understand what it’s about, or what it’s telling us. And sometimes, there are singer songwriters who that very much is the case, right? Like they’re telling us a story. We understand every single word, we can follow the journey. And there’s, and that is part of what draws us to that. Artists. Yeah. For some musicians who I love. I couldn’t tell you what a song was about, right? Like I there’s so it’s in this is a thing about having kids to like, I’ll listen to a song that I love. And then my son or my daughter will be like, what’s this song about? And this is our I’ve listened to it for, like, 20 years? And I’m like, oh, like? That’s a great question. And I like it. Yeah. And so I try to bring the same sensibility to poetry, right, where sometimes it’s not about me, like, knowing what the poem was about, or what the poet was trying to tell me what their intention was, when I finished the poem. Sometimes, you read a poem, and it is just about that one line, that stays with you that one image that stays with you sometimes it you know, it’s, it’s like, it’s like a painting, you go look at a painting, and you’re like, I don’t really know what’s going on in it like, here, but I know that like this corner of this abstract painting, like makes me feel, yeah, it’s doing something and you don’t necessarily have the language for it, you don’t necessarily have. So poetry is one of the things I think it’s a result of the way that we’re taught about it, like we’re taught about it as if and he was on the podcast. Yeah, we did. Yeah, he talks. And I think that sometimes I think it’s true, like sometimes we are taught to treat poems like puzzles or math problems, the right answer, yeah. And sometimes it really is just about how one line or one image or one moment in a poem makes you feel, and it doesn’t have to be deeper than that. Right? Like, it doesn’t have to be like, Okay, well, I understood this one line, but I don’t understand how it fits into everything else. Like some maybe all the other lines, you don’t think you understand or just in service of making mine feel that one line, you know, because there are poems that I read their posts that I read, and I remember, it is a thing where like, I couldn’t tell you what the name of a poem was, I couldn’t tell. But I remember. And sometimes I don’t even remember what the image was, that made me feel a thing. But I remember there was a point in the reading of the book that I was moved with that I was struck with that I felt, and I think that that is fine, because there’s all sorts of different ways to, to read and engage with poems.

Traci Thomas 22:46
I fully agree with you and I have been told this exact same thing. This is your the fourth person who’s done a poetry book on the show. So we did wild beauty by NCSoft into Dr. Sean gay. We did the tradition by Jericho Brown, we did doppelganger by Courtney Lamarr, Charleston, and now we’re doing a catalogue of unabashed gratitude by Ross gate. And when I first started this, like talking into a microphone about poetry, which again, makes me feel very insecure, I was like, I didn’t get it. Ah, and Gabrielle Seville, who was our guest for the first for the, for the wild beauty. She was like, if you get one out of 10 poems in a poetry collection, she’s like, That, to me would be a poetry collection that I like, that’s how I would classify that whatever. And so I took that with me, and you know, I’ve taken all these little pieces, and that’s why I was really wanting to make sure that I said there were lines in this poetry collection where I was like, yes, right, like where I like felt things and like felt excited, and letting go of this idea that I have to like, get everything but it is hard to read a poem and to feel like I this line is sticking out but I don’t know how did I get here like so and I don’t want to harp on this because I think there’s a lot of really good stuff in this collection and like a lot of things that I want to talk about that I liked but there as far as like reading poetry and I know a lot of listeners will feel the same way is it it is hard to be a person who thinks about and talks about the written word and then to feel like completely lost. And like to your point about music I my husband I talked about this a lot. My kids love bad bunny. We love bad bunny in our house. Yeah, Mr. Sack speaks a little bit of Spanish because of work and things. I speak a very little bit of Spanish So mostly we don’t know what the fuck bad bunny is talking about. But we love bad buddy. And and that is sort of like this poetry analogy Right? Like sometimes a poetry collection will just like be a banger for me start to finish and I’m like I get it with you like alive at the end of the world. So you Jones collection last year comes to mind above ground comes to mind. I just finished reading Jose Oliveras New Collection PRO images of gold comes to mind, Nate comes to mind. Like it’s, it’s like these poetry collections where I’m like, I know what they’re talking about. I’ve experienced it, I can feel it. I’m just vibing out. And then there’s poetry collections where I’m like, I love Thank you Next on Ariana Grande, his album, thank you next. And that’s it for me. Like, that’s the one song you know. And so, but it is hard to like, navigate that as a smart air quotes literary person, you know, it’s just, it’s just a challenging for me, this is the challenge. And I’m sure other people feel this way about sci fi maybe or romance or nonfiction. I know many people don’t like nonfiction. And they’re like, it’s boring, it’s dry? And I say yes, some of it is right, which is like what you’re saying to me about these poems? Like, some are not these poems, what about poetry, some poetry collections are going to be giving you Academic Press dry as fuck, some of them are going to be giving you how the word is passed, some of them are going to be giving you heavy like, and not every poetry collection can be expected to be everything to every reader. So I tried to like make space for that. But it is challenging because I can explain the difference between heavy and how the word is past and, you know, some academic text or whatever, but I can’t yet do that with poetry. So I think that’s sort of what I’m getting at.

Clint Smith 26:16
And I think that that is okay. Right. I also think it’s like fine for us to extend grace to ourselves.

Traci Thomas 26:23
I don’t know how to do that claim. Your talent. Oh, wow.

Clint Smith 26:27
I see. I see. Oh, man, to go on a peloton, right? I already wrote a doubleheader. Look, I different poets. And again, I keep going back to this sort of like meta genre thing. But like, the same way different artists, different visual artists have different styles. And it’s you know, so I’ve been thinking about this a lot, because we are trying, we’re buying art for our new home. And so, you know, what I mean, I’ve been trying to figure out what my artistic sensibilities are, like, I don’t really have the language for, I’m still learning.

Traci Thomas 27:05
So, you know, for seven years, and there’s no art on the walls.

Clint Smith 27:09
And so I’m, so I’m trying to figure this out. And I like, you know, I saw this really amazing print by I can, I can show you, the leader will

Traci Thomas 27:20
But well, we could maybe link to it in the show notes.

Clint Smith 27:24
For those who are who are listening, I’m grabbing the, the print to show precisely. So this is a see how I think soldiers. So these are so this is by a guy named Jay dura DC based artists. And this is a what I impressionist painting, sort of modern impressionist, but it’s a rendering of a famous photograph of black Civil War soldiers. And it’s like, if you literally, if you Googled black Civil War soldiers, it’ll be the first picture to come up. And I was just so struck by the colors, and the broad brushstrokes and the, and the way that he the sort of three dimensionality of it and how he captured this image that I know so well, that’s only I’ve only ever seen in black and white, and, and gave it a different sort of light.

Traci Thomas 28:15
I’m looking at the photograph now. Really?

Clint Smith 28:20
Yeah, so it’s like, I, I don’t know, like, when I look at it, it makes me feel something. And I don’t have all the language for it. I don’t know if I understand it, quote, unquote, you know, like, when you go to museums, you’re like, do I understand like, it just, it evokes something within me. Yeah, that drew me to it. And, and I think that, that, that is enough, you know, and, and I, my, every part has different styles to I come, the way that I write my poems is something that I take seriously. And something that means a lot to me, in all my forms of writing, is this idea of accessibility. And it’s interesting because sometimes accessibility can be it’s like a complicated word training in some ways, because it is the kind of the guiding ethos for so much of what I do like the reason I wrote how the word has passed, the way that I did was because I wanted to reject the idea that the scholarly and historical rigor was mutually exclusive from language and story storytelling, in a narrative that was accessible to a sort of larger public. The reason counting descent is the type of book that it is, is because I was a kid who was reading poems in high school, and even in college and sitting there and being like, I don’t understand these poems. I don’t get it. What is the person saying this doesn’t make any sense to me? And who I was like, am I something wrong with me? Am I like, am I dumb? Like, do I not understand? Like, is everybody else understanding this? Or are we all like, performing a sort of understanding that isn’t true, and which you know, like, and so for me, and my own sensibilities, I think I am drawn to writing poems that feel legible in some way. And it’s the same reason that I do the crash course black American History Series, right? Because, again, my guiding ethos is like, how do I make history legible for young people, and so much of that shows up in my poems, because I want, it’s all I’m always thinking about the same way as in our last podcast, like the high school version of me, right. And I want the high school version of me to pick up a book of poems by the 30 something year old version of me and feel like they can read them and understand them. Different poets have different approaches, different poets have different sensibilities, different poets, in a way it is not to say one is right, or one is wrong. There is there is a lot to be said. There’s about poems that lean into complexity. Yeah, that are difficult. And I think that that is there’s something really beautiful about that really important about that. And, you know, each writer, each artist has their own tradition, they feel a part of their own ethos, their own, sort of guiding artistic principles. And that looks different for each person, you know, and I do think that Ross’s work is also legible in many ways. Yeah. But I but I think that the way that this book is written, especially because there’s so many poems that are like, 10 pages long,

Traci Thomas 31:42
Yeah, there’s only 24 poems, right? The books is 100 pages, your book is under pages, and you have like, 60 Yeah, 24.

Clint Smith 31:50
I think it’s not meant to be a book that you remember what a poem is. I mean, because like, even though the penultimate poem kept the title, poem, catalog of unabashed gratitude, it’s about like, 17 different things.

Traci Thomas 32:05
Yeah, it’s actually its own poetry collection. That’s what I thought was the note I took. So the title poem is its own poetry collection. Yeah, we Okay, before we, before we dive in, we’re gonna take a quick break, we’re gonna come right back to this. Okay, we’re back, I want to touch on what you were just saying about accessibility, because and this is a thing that I feel about in a lot of other art. And I think you balance this line really well. And the other collections I mentioned, that really worked for me balanced this line really well, about accessibility is that I feel like I can understand it, but I feel like you’re not talking down to me, or like, you don’t think that I’m an idiot. And I think oftentimes, when things are accessible, you lose some complexity, because the author is worried that their audience won’t get it. And there’s this, like, I need to talk to the audience. And my audience needs something that’s accessible or whatever. And so I would load to suggest that someone like Ross gay, would ever want to be accessible to me. I just think I’m not there yet. Right? Like, you’re there. And this collection works for you. So well. And the it’s not that Ross gay needs to change what he does, I need to get better, or like, I need to even know I

Clint Smith 33:19
don’t even I don’t even know if that’s true, though. I think it’s like, the way you also the way that you engage art is shaped so much by the moment and the time and the context in which we engage, right? So it is the way that we even began talking about this. It’s impossible for me like it’s fundamentally impossible for me to disentangle the experience of first encountering this book, from the largest socio political context in which I encountered it. Does that mean when I picked this book up, I understood every single thing Ross was trying to say no, but I knew there were images. I knew there were ideas. I knew there were lines and language that made me feel something that I that I didn’t realize I’m needed so desperately. Yes, in that moment. And so it’s, I mean, it’s almost it’s the same anything here, we could go on with different honors, but like, it’s Have you ever like, I think many of us have had this experience where like, maybe you’re out at a bar, or you’re out at the club, I don’t know, I don’t go to the club anymore. But like when I was young and hip, you’re out of the club, and you hear the song and you’d like, this song is amazing. Like, what is this and then you like, you put you know, you’re Shazam it and you’re like, look it up later, you’re like, get the song. And then you listen to it. Like when you’re washing the dishes in your house, and you’re like, This doesn’t feel the same, if

Traci Thomas 34:37
It does not.

Clint Smith 34:39
It feels so different. You know, in the end, it’s because the way you consume art is inevitably tied to the context in which you consume it. Right. So like what of the feeling you had listening to that song while with your friends while dancing while like you You know, living Young, Wild and Free is different than the feeling you have folding your clothes, or like washing, you know, and that’s. And so for this book, it’s the saint who knows how I would experience this book, if I were reading it for the first time now, seven years ago, that’s, and I think about that all the time with certain books that I read, like, I read it at a time that either made it so that the book did or didn’t speak to me in a certain way. And if I revisited, then I might engage with it in a way that changes my understanding of it. So yeah, so I don’t think I just want to say that I don’t think it’s the case that something is wrong with you whether you need to change but like,

Traci Thomas 35:41
Not that I need to change, but like, I would hate that, I would hate that a poet would change their poems, because of, like, the thought of an audience because I feel like there is the audience, it’s just might not be me, right are like, but that’s for every, every art, I guess all of it.

Clint Smith 35:57
And I think part of it too, is like, it’s still, sometimes because people don’t read a lot of poetry, they, the poor, the collection that they do read, there’s poems, they read, there’s like a lot of pressure on those people put a lot of pressure on themselves and on the collection, to like, be the thing that helps them. And like, if they don’t get it, like they don’t get you like, this is just reifying the idea that I don’t understand poetry. And it’s a match, I think, if you read, and this is not to, like, burden you with this task, but like, if you read as many books of poetry, as you do books of nonfiction, you will find you will find so many more pockets, because part of it is just figuring out what you like, yeah, part of it is just figuring out what poems and what poets and what sort of vibes that you align with, and then finding the poems and poets that, that align with that. And when you have a smaller sample size, it can be tougher to find the people because you just haven’t read as broadly, but you know, I agree with you, I don’t think any poet should change their work in service of the audience necessarily.

Traci Thomas 37:09
Unless that was like the intention of the piece. Like, the intention is the audience and then, you know, yeah,

Clint Smith 37:15
I think, you know, I read the poems that feel most natural to me, right. And for, and I have to accept that for some people, you know, and I thought about this a lot with this book. And I thought about this a lot in the editing process. And like, with above ground, do you mean with above ground, there are some people who are going to read certain poems in there and be like, this is like, overly earnest, or like, this is too sweet for me, or this is too sentimental, or this is like, Well, why do you have to ruin it by like, ending on this kind of line that tried to neatly wrap it all up? I wrote the poems that felt most natural for me, for each for each specific poem. Yeah. And I think that part of what that means is that I have to accept that different people, some people might like that, and some people might not. And that’s just what kind of comes with the territory. And if you and I hope that those people who were like these poems are too earnest, or these poems are too, you know, sentimental, both that you’re entitled to have that opinion, and I hope you’ll find poems that that don’t feel that way for you. Right? And that’s okay. You know, and there has to be okay.

Traci Thomas 38:25
Okay, I want to talk about a few of the poems in the actual collection. First of all, one of the, one of the moments that I felt like Ross Gaye and I had come together into one brain and one heart was in the palm armpit where he talks about being in his parents bed, and just observing, but not really hearing what they were talking about as like a kid. I don’t know, that moment. I just, I loved it so much. I was like, This is my childhood. And I want to talk also about this idea of gratitude. Because, as we mentioned, at the beginning, there’s a lot of this poetry collection is about, I don’t know, Roscoe, but I assume he’s big into gardening. He seems like gardening, girly. Okay, something that I am not into, at all, which I think was part of my struggle with like, sometimes he’d be comparing things to like a plant, and I’d have to be like, What is this plant? Like, what is happening? But this idea of grief and death is like very palpable in this collection. And as you were talking about the time in which it came out, of course, that makes that make more sense. Plus, there’s the personal grief, he’s lost a father, he has a friend who is murdered in one of the poems, and again, it reminds me a lot of homies, because when Hanif was on the show, he talked about, you know, he lost his mother when he was young, and he talked about how as he’s gotten older, he’s been able to kind of reclaim that some of that grief as gratitude of like how lucky I was to to be alive when my mother was alive for the This amount of time and it again reminds me of above ground because you’ve got this grief and this gratitude. And I think what I’m trying to say is my favorite part of this collection were all the times that grief popped up. That was like, What made it feel really alive? Like if it had been just like, I love a chrysanthemum? I love a plum. Look at this squirrel, I would have been like, okay, no, thank you. But then it would be like, I love the squirrel. And like, I think it’s an I think it’s on page 89. I don’t think it is I wrote it down, where he’s talking about his friend who’s murdered. And he says, and thank you, the bat, and thank you the baggie of dreadlocks I found in a drawer while washing and folding the clothes of our murdered friend. Like it just comes out of nowhere, right? Like, he’s, it’s in this. It’s in the title poem. And he says, you know, thank you to the woman in Bowman barefoot in a gaudy dress. Thank you to the man all night long hosing a mist on his early bloomed peach tree. And it’s all in the same poem. And all of a sudden, it’s like thank you to this. And my friend who was murdered. And like, it’s like these little moments of like, it’s if there’s darkness here, too. That was what really like, excited me about this collection. Because I was worried it was just going to be a collection of poems. I’m like, I’m grateful for the trees. I’m you know, and it’s like, I don’t know, that’s, to me. That is like where the poem The collection shined brightest.

Clint Smith 41:26
Yeah. And it’s so I’m glad you said that. Because it’s, I don’t want to want people to leave. And they won’t, because we’re not talking about it. But like, leave with like a reductive sense of what the book is about that it’s just like, law like, oh, to this old to that. And that, to be clear, that will be a perfectly fine book to write. Yeah, part of what I think is so for me special about this book is the way that those moments sit almost within the sort of larger sense of gratitude. And in you, you point this out, but like it kind of, they show up. Because so many of these streams, these poems are like long streams of consciousness, they, they simply show up in the stream of consciousness as they would in our own stream of consciousness, right? Like, sometimes you are, to bring it back to what someone we were talking about at the park, like, you’re pushing your kid on the swing, and you’re like, lots of lovely day, this is amazing landline, and you get a phone call and your brother in your mom is telling you that like your aunt just died. And then but like, and then your son is like, you know, they’re not on the phone. So like, Can I have some, some Ritz crackers like right and I in your brain and the way you are experiencing it all it’s like, like, if you were to write about that you’re like talking about what it is to watch your kid like swing back and forth and their legs dangling over the swing. And then you pick up the phone and this person who you know, in your entire life has passed away. And you have to figure out how to get a plane ticket back tomorrow, the next night to go to the funeral. But at the same time, your kid is saying Look at me look at me as they get on the wheelbarrow. And so your mind is moving to all these different places. And I think it’s a similar thing that’s happening in Ross’s book, like there’s a place where he says this is on early in the collection on page four in the to the fig tree on knife and Christian form at the bottom, where he says I couldn’t understand and besides I was a little tipsy on the dance of the velvety heart rolling in my mouth, pulling me down and down into the oldest countries of my body, where I ate my first fig from the hand of a man who escaped his country by swimming through the night. Right and so it’s it is this moment of you know, he’s describing the, the fruit as as a hot, velvety heart rolling around in his mouth and, and he’s talking about the man who hands it to him and we’re like, enraptured in this moment of utter delight. He’s just experiencing utter delight. And it’s like, oh, this came from the hand of a man who can’t who escaped his country by swimming through the night, right? And so it’s, it’s even the, the juxtaposition of those moments, right? Where like, you are handed something that gives you so much joy from a person whose hands have experienced so much pain, right? And that’s again, like that’s, that’s life. And you think about how many times that happens where like we don’t know that story, right? Or how many times something that we have benefited from, has come from the hands the work of people whose whose stories, carry traumas or violence that we will never, that we will never know sometimes we won’t know it, and sometimes we will know it, but the end does that and does knowing it, change how we experience the joy or delight of thing. I don’t know. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t but I just I liked that those sorts of moments exists because it For me, it takes me it is a sort of reminder for me of the duality of, of all so many of our experiences.

Traci Thomas 45:08
Yeah, I mean, just hearing you say that and mentioning like, you know, you’re at the park and your kid passwords, cracker and whatever. And like on top of all the things you said, also, then all of a sudden Ritz crackers become associated with your with your arms passing or something, right. Like it’s like these things, not only do they happen all at the same time, but then they get pushed into your brain at the same time. Like I can’t think about, I said this last time, I can’t think about the verdict in the George in the murder trial, you know, for George Floyd without thinking about the exact park that I was in, in the helicopters overhead, right, and like those things shouldn’t necessarily be connected. But to me, that verdicts coming out is the helicopters. And then I had to leave the park. And so I ended up at Sprouts. And I just think about sprouts and like, it’s like these things. And I do think that the collection does a really good job of that. And that is so clear in the collection that it’s like this moving through the stream of consciousness in this like meandering thought. But it’s also challenging, if you don’t know, the thought that started at all. But But I I do like the challenge of this collection. Like I like the words. And I’ve talked about this before, too. I like to read poetry out loud, at least a little bit. Because I usually can find something out loud that I can’t find off the page. Oftentimes just with like how the vowels and the consonant sound, you know, we did doppelganger, and one of the things that I loved about that collection when I was reading it out loud was how many like plosive. And like, really like oral consonants there are in that collection, like just the word choice was so like. And I just like love that right. And this brings me to another thing that we talked about a lot that I want to ask you about, because you’re a poet, you have a poem about it. So we got to talk about it. I want to talk about punctuation, line endings, and how a poem appears on the page. Because I’ll give you my quick backstory, people who listen to these poach episodes. Now, I have a background in acting, I studied Shakespeare for a while. And I have very strong opinions about meter, and punctuation. And so when I see a period, I respect a period, when I see a comma, I respect a comma, when I see a line ending, that to me means an end of something doesn’t have to be an end of a sentence doesn’t have to be an end of a thought. It doesn’t have to be a big pause. But there is some shift for me. That’s the cue that I’m getting from the writer. Now, I’ve talked to many poets, they don’t all agree with me. They some people say some people say they agree. And then I hear them read their poems, and they don’t actually agree with me. And then some people are like, No, you’re wrong. So I would love to hear from you your thoughts about punctuation, line endings, and then when I say how poems appear on the page, like you have the poem about the coastline, in Louisiana, that is like on a diagonal, and it gets like thinner and thinner and thinner. And so like, I read that poem in a different way, or like your hiccup poem, it’s like these little paragraphs back and forth. So like, that’s like a hiccup to me. So like, I was reading them in different voices kind of like, well, once an actor always an actor’s. So I’d love to hear your thoughts. Because this poetry collection does not have a lot of punctuation, which made me was struggling for me, it was hard for me, but also some of the poems like the first poem has very few lines in the poem, and then later on, some of the lines are really, really long. So just wondering what you think about those kinds of cues as a poet to your audience?

Clint Smith 48:41
Yeah. I think that, you know, it’s interesting to think about these questions within the context of a specific poem. And then interesting to think about them in the context of a larger collection in which different poems are fitting together. So, in the context of Ross’s book, part of what, you know, we’ve talked about this part of what I think the the lack of punctuation is doing is communicating a sort of stream of consciousness, a kind of rolling set of ideas and thoughts that are meant to reflect the like, I like, in some ways, like I read this book, and I feel like I am stepping into the consciousness of Roski to be you know, I should say, you know, we are taught that the speaker is not always the author. And so maybe it’s wrong maybe it’s not I think it’s wrong. If it’s wrong, sorry, Ross, but, but it feels like when I’m reading, I’m stepping into the consciousness of Ross Kay, and experiencing the myriad ways that he makes sense of, of a man Almont have an idea of a set of ideas all together. And some of these poems are only have like, two, you know, so I’m looking at just flip to a random page, page 45 to the mistake, each line has two or three max for words per line. And so the the impact the effect that I experience, when reading lines that are very short, is, is a speed is speed, right? Like I’m sort of moving quickly, through, my eyes are moving quickly down the page, I’m experiencing this sensation of, of quickness in some way. And, and so to me that the with the poem, whether it’s the intention of the writer or not, what it is doing, is saying I want to be read quickly part of and that may be tied to the content of the poem. I know oftentimes, for me, when I do make a similar stylistic choice, I’m my intent is that the reader experience it as a sort of quickening. That the this because it’s interesting, and I had to think about this a lot, because I came from, as we talked about, in the last episode, I come from a performance poetry background, right, I come from a background in which like, I wasn’t thinking at all about what the poem looked like, on the page, because when I was first writing poems, they were just big blobs of text, they just, and I would get on stage. And I controlled how the listener, how the audience experienced what I was saying. So I made a decision about where to speed up, where to slow down, where to in my volume louder, where to make it softer, where to do certain things with my body that like enhanced or complimented the meaning of the words, I was saying, what my breath control was like those were, in the form, right thinking if we’re going to think of like spoken word, poetry, performance, poetry has its own form, within the sort of larger genre of poetry, which I think we should, those act as sort of auditory punctuation, auditory linebreaks. And so when you when I counting the scent, that was the first time that I added collections length, had to think about poems that I had spent a lot of time reading out loud, how does what I was doing with my breath, are my voice translate to the structural decisions that I make on the page. And, and so you know, if I want the reader to experience things more slowly, I’ll make the lines very long. If I want them to experience things very quickly, I make the lines very short. Sometimes I want the form the content of the poem to be reflected in the structure in the form of the poem. So to your point, like cartography is meant to reflect the eroding away of the Louisiana coastline. I think about the poem about the little boy who was the first person killed at the lab, the electric chair, and how that poem is meant to look like a chair. Right? And so that’s interesting, I think.

Traci Thomas 53:18
But there’s such a clear rhythm to that collection to that poem, that it’s like, it’s like, two syllable, two syllable, two syllable, two syllable I guess, like that, that, that, that, that, that that. So like, I got it, but I never the chair didn’t occur to me.

Clint Smith 53:31
And that’s, that’s, that is so fascinating to me, by the way that like what people get, do they see the chair? Or do they not see the chair, some people, you know, I, in my first collection, there was a poem about this idea of like, holding your hands up as you go down the slide. That was an attempt at being in conversation with the idea of like, Mike Brown, Hands up, don’t shoot kind of thing. And that poem is meant to look, you know, not directly but somewhat like, like a slide. And so those choices are choices you can make, you don’t have to make those choices for every type of poem. But I think for those of us who there’s like a, like a generation of us, so to speak, or a sort of group of us, who came from the spoken word, slam poetry, performance, poetry, space, who are now in our, you know, when we all knew each other when we were teenagers in our early 20s. We were at the same open mic, same poetry slams the same. And now so many of us are have like moved into different genres. I think, you know, I’m thinking about interviewing and thinking about the martial and thinking about Sofia Hello, Elizabeth Acevedo Fatima Asgard. Smith, I’d never do Ricky like so many folks, you know, I’ve known these folks for half my life and part of what everybody I think brings to their work and keeps from our time on stages. And you know, we’re still on stages. different ways, but like, you know, now people are writing young adult novels and writing for TV and writing Marvel Comics and writing, essays and writing. And it’s amazing to see the, the way that we took this space that in so many ways trained us as writers like this, this was our training ground. This is where we learned the music, of language. And I think that that shows up in so much of our work in various ways, but part of what it has been for so many of us is thinking about how the auditory and aural experience translates into different mediums and different you know, and we make different decisions. That’s not to say we aren’t there’s like a homogenous set of decisions that are right around it. But

Traci Thomas 55:43
are you are thinking about how something out loud might translate like, because you’re I guess what I’m asking is, you are thinking about what instructions or hints you might potentially leave for a reader about how you think about the poems. Not necessarily performance, but like how they’re, you’re trying to tell us something with the with the shape, or the line length and endings and things you want us to respect that. And I what I was when I came to with this backpack on our book club last time was like, I feel like the author is just saying, make a choice, like, choose whatever these short lines mean to you, like, make a choice, do the poem that way and like, see what comes up, but like that there is a choice behind a poem, like mistake or a poem, like, on a back catalogue of unabashed gratitude, like they’re very differently written, and so they should be treated differently to the readers reading.

Clint Smith 56:46
Yes. And what the author’s intent was, it’s kind of irrelevant, like it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter. Like it doesn’t like when I when I put above ground out into the world, I can have made all sorts of specific granular line level word level decisions about what you know, what language Am I using? What this this what is that what is, and somebody can come to that poem, and read it in a completely different way than I intended it. But that’s kind of like that’s, that’s the name of the game. Right? That’s, that is that is literally what art does, when you put it out into the world. It’s not doesn’t matter what you thought you were doing. Like, it doesn’t matter. Like, I mean, you can talk about it. And that’s interesting, but I have, I have high school kids who like slide my DMs every day, and who are like I was assigned coming to St. For school. And I have a question about this poem. What did you mean with this? Sort of like, is the cicada metaphor for this? What is this? What is that? What is the cathedral is that are you saying, you know, and they’re like, go wake up eating me. And like, alright, he was raised, he was Catholic, but he has a kid who’s four and a kid who’s five, four plus five is nine, not nine. You know, like, do all kinds of you know, because that’s how we’re taught. That’s our time, you have to analyze poems.

Traci Thomas 58:13
And it’s like, it’s too much?

Clint Smith 58:13
How did they make you feel? Right? How the line make you feel? Like I’m much more interested in what the line or the poem or the collection did for you than whatever I intended it to be.

Traci Thomas 58:26
But there is some but I guess, regardless of how I receive it, or what decisions I make with it, you are signaling to us in some way. Something if we catch it or not, is on us. But there is some like, you know, sure choices that are made by you that you’re hoping to pass on to us, not necessarily that we would make the same choice, but that that you’ve made a choice.

Clint Smith 58:50
Yes, yes, that I’ve made a choice and what, and even, but even what those choices meant to me might be different than those choices. Yeah, I can I can sit here and say, you know, when I make short lines, I mean for the pace to be quickened. That’s how I experience it as a reader.

Traci Thomas 59:08
I read a totally opposite from you. Oh, that’s so interesting. I read short lines as like, like thinking on the thought. So it’s like, I went to the store to get a glass of milk and like, it’s like that I’m discovering the language for it. Whereas like a longer line I read a little bit quicker because it’s like, I’m telling you something.

Clint Smith 59:28
Yeah, that’s amazing.

Traci Thomas 59:29
I think that’s amazing. Like I’m so I don’t think that the author’s intent is important. But I do think that the author’s i to me again, as an actor, because that’s like, that’s what you have you have the script. I don’t have Tennessee Williams telling me what he wants Laura to do. But I have I have the way that he’s written this character like, obviously for Shakespeare, like I have dynamic pentameter and I know what that means. So in a in a line like now is the winter of our discontent. It doesn’t follow that I am pick that for first, that first now is a bigger moment for us. Because then it goes into that iambic or, or a line like to be or not to be. That is the question. That also is not a lambic, we have a, we have an extra syllable or whatever, at the end. And so those are like hints from the author, which is how I approach poetry. I’m like, Oh, they’re telling me something. And I have to figure out what that is. For me. That doesn’t mean that I get, it doesn’t mean that I get your actual instructions. But it means like, there’s something here for me to unpack, because otherwise it would be written in a different way. You know, I think that’s right. At least that’s how I do it. I don’t know if that’s, that’s the only way I can do it. Because then at least it keeps me engaged in a poem. Sometimes, like, I’ll lose my thought. But if I’m like, trying to figure it out, I feel like I stay more engaged. Yeah, I want to ask you, did you have a favorite poem in the collection? In Ross’s collection?

Clint Smith 1:00:53
Yeah. It’s hard to pick a single poem. That is my favorite, in part, because I don’t mean Ross might tell you differently, but like, I don’t read, almost read this book as like one long poem. I guess it feels less of a set of individual poems and like one large stream of consciousness, I just read, it was like 100 pages of raw stream of consciousness. And one of the things that I one of the poems that I’m looking at right now is a poem called feet. And there’s a lot that I love here. Because it like it captures Ross’s humor, like he has a line on this on page 20. On the first one where he says, I mean, let me I’m just gonna read the the first several lines, feet, friends, mine are ugly feet, the bodies common wreckage stuffed into boots, the second toe on the left foots crooked enough that when a child asks, What’s that, of it? I can without flinch or fear of doubt, lie that a cow stepped on it, which maybe makes them fear cows, for which I repent, in love as I am with those philosophical beast, who would never smash my feet, nor sneer at them the way my mother does. It’s so that’s very funny to me. Like the whole thing. He’s just like, I have ugly SP. And sometimes a kid will look at my feet and be like, damn, like, what’s wrong with your feet, and then he’ll say a cow stepped on them. And it’s, um, it’s funny, because I think of my four year old, who like, my five year old, he might be like, this is not true. My four year old will be like, Oh, my God, a cow stepped on by she would absolutely believe you when you say a cow stepped on your foot. And then he’s like, I don’t want to traumatize this child by talking about how a cow stepped on my foot. I don’t want to ruin cows for this little girl. And so I love the humor that enters with. And he goes like I have never indulged in the pleasure of flip flops, shy or ashamed, digging my toes like 10 Tiny ostriches into the sand. Like, again, really funny. And then the other thing I like about this poem is on page 22. And he does this many times throughout the book, where he, he almost does like a meta. He either steps out of the poem, and like, addresses the reader, or he likes steps out of the poem to talk about things that poets do. Poems.

Traci Thomas 1:03:23
This is the nice part of this poem. This I’m trying,

Clint Smith 1:03:25
I like it. I like it so much. But what do I know it says, What I do know is that I love the moment when the poet says, I’m trying to do this, or I’m trying to do that. Sometimes it’s a horseshit trick, but sometimes it’s a way by which the poet says, I wish I could tell you truly the middle of the little factory in my head, the smokestacks chuffing the dandelions and personally and willows of sweet clover prying through the blacktop. I wish I could tell you how inside the study mumble and clank of machines and so I just like, he does this, like in some of his poems, he’ll have this like, dear reader, or like, like as a reminder that he that there’s no pretense he’s like, I know people are reading this. And he’s also like, almost, it’s a sort of gentle self deprecation that I really appreciate like, I like it when I put it up. I personally like it. Also, when poets don’t take themselves too seriously. And it’s just a sort of like, yeah, it was just a cool moment. So I like I really liked the poem feet for a lot of reasons.

Traci Thomas 1:04:31
Okay, last thing so now I have to go what do you think of the title and the cover and then we’re done.

Clint Smith 1:04:37
Beautiful cover I love the colors love it is again this you know, to wrap up our I feel like we’ve had so many but like I look so I look at this cover. I don’t know what this cover. I don’t know. What is it a picture of? I don’t know what it’s meant. Is it a field? Is it flowers? Garden? Is that the sun? Is it the sky is it water is Isn’t the sky point but, but I know how it makes me feel so good. And I it just I like looking at it. I love the dripping paint. I love it just and I think that that’s not to get like overly poetic metta but like that’s what this book is right? It’s like in the dripping paint is like the way that the the like bleeds in everything bleeds into everything else. That is the stream of consciousness that is, and it’s you don’t have to say that this is a picture of a metal you don’t have to say this is a painting of the sunset. You don’t have to know if that’s the water or the sky. All you have to know is what it makes you feel.

Traci Thomas 1:05:39
Yeah, totally. I agree. The only thing I don’t like about my cover is all these stupid stickers take away from the painting but like, congratulations. Yeah, sorry. It’s so good. And I love the cat. I love that the title was in one of the poems. I always love that. Okay, this was so much fun. You’re welcome. Anytime. Thank you so much for being here. Everybody. You can go get above ground wherever you get your books. Thank you, Clint. It was so fun. And everyone else we will see you in the stacks.

Alright, y’all, that does it for us today. Thank you so much for listening. And thank you again to Clint Smith for being our guest and to lean a little for helping to make this conversation possible. And now the announcement for our May book club pick. The book that we’ll be reading is called This Boy We made: A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics and Facing the Unknown by Taylor Harris. It came out in 2022. And I am so excited to read it with our guest, but you’ll have to listen next week on May 3rd to find out who our guest will be. We will be discussing This Boy We Made on Wednesday, May 31st on the podcast. If you love the show and you want insight access to it, head to patreon.com/stocks to join the stackspack make sure you’re subscribed to the sacks wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you’re listening through Apple podcasts, be sure to leave us a rating and a review. For more from the stocks. Follow us on social media at thestackspod on Instagram and episodes on underscore on Twitter, and check out our website thestackspodcast.com. This episode of The Stacks was edited by Christian Duenas with production assistance from Lauren Tyree. The Stacks is created and produced by me Traci Thomas.

To support The Stacks and find out more from this week’s sponsors, click here.

Connect with Clint: Instagram | Twitter | Website Connect with The Stacks: Instagram | Twitter | Shop | Patreon | Goodreads | Subscribe

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. If you prefer to support the show with a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs. We receive a small commission when products are purchased through links on this website, and this comes at no cost to you. This in no way effects opinions on books and products reviewed here. For more information click here.