“Not so very long ago—five years perhaps—I opened the pages of a book and began to read a poem that entirely reconfigured my notions of what a poem can do," writes Chancellor Linda Gregerson in “The Poem That Changed My Life: Ross Gay’s ‘Bringing the Shovel Down.’

In this new essay, Gregerson examines the imagery, movement, and emotional arc of Gay’s poem, which she calls “a work of enchantment and a veritable handbook of rhetorical technique.” Included with the essay is the poem itself, as well as a second poem from that same book in which Gay revisits and revises the narrative presented in the first poem.

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