On her website, Roxane Gay would seem to practice the art of understatement. Her “about” page begins with this succinct line: “I write things.” The word “things” is hyperlinked there, as it is here, and shows that by Gay’s definition, the word means a book of short stories, numerous contributions to print anthologies and dozens and dozens of essays, short stories, interviews and reviews to be found on the web.
She goes on to list a number of other things she does, all of which makes her voluminous output all the more impressive. Gay is an assistant professor of English at Eastern Illinois University, co-editor of the journal PANK, essays editor for The Rumpus, and fiction editor of Bluestem.
Gay joined us for a Writers on the Fly session when she was in town in April 2013 as Writer in Residence for the Mission Creek Festival. She begins by reading the short story, “About My Father’s Accent,” from her collection Ayiti. Gay said she often is asked how she has time to do it all. “I don’t sleep much, and I live in the middle of nowhere,” she said.
In 2016, Gay was named the recipient of the City of Literature’s Paul Engle Prize, which honors an individual who, like Paul Engle, represents a pioneering spirit in the world of literature through writing, editing, publishing, or teaching, and whose active participation in the larger issues of the day has contributed to the betterment of the world through the literary arts