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Be Holding

Be Holding

A Poem

Ross Gay
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Be Holding is a love song to legendary basketball player Julius Erving—known as Dr. J—who dominated courts in the 1970s and ‘80s as a small forward for the Philadelphia ‘76ers. But this book-length poem is more than just an ode to a magnificent athlete. Through a kind of lyric research, or lyric meditation, Ross Gay connects Dr. J’s famously impossible move from the 1980 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers to pick-up basketball and the flying Igbo and the Middle Passage, to photography and surveillance and state violence, to music and personal histories of flight and familial love. Be Holding wonders how the imagination, or how our looking, might make us, or bring us, closer to each other. How our looking might make us reach for each other. And might make us be reaching for each other. And how that reaching might be something like joy.


Ross Gay teaches poetry at Indiana University and is the author of the poetry collections Against WhichBringing the Shovel DownLace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens (with Aimee Nezhukumatathil), River (with Rose Wehrenberg), Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, and the essay collection The Book of Delights.


  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press (September 8, 2020)
  • Language‏:‎ English
  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • ISBN-10: ‎0822966239
  • ISBN-13: ‎9780822966234
  • Item Weight:‎ 5.6 ounces
  • UNSPSC-Code:‎ 55101500
  • Dimensions: ‎6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
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