“Poems are profoundly bodily,” says Ross Gay. We spoke with the poet about embodiment in artistic and athletic practices, the act of looking, and his longform poem Be Holding, which takes its inspiration from “Dr. J” Julius Erving’s famous layup in the 1980 NBA Finals.
The poem now serves as the libretto for a new performance work of the same name, presented by Girard College and created in collaboration with composer Tyshawn Sorey, new music ensemble Yarn/Wire, and director Brooke O’Harra. Be Holding explores themes of Black genius and beauty in the face of racial violence and inequities and considers how imagination and careful looking can bring people closer to one another.
Be Holding at Girard College premieres May 31 through June 3, 2023.