The Peaceful Co-existence Of Poetry and Sport
Unpacking The Poet
When I visit schools as part of a Meet The Author Day, young writers always arrive brimming with questions regarding the writing life and the work surrounding the publishing of books. The usual questions arise during the day:
Where do you get your ideas?
What inspired you to write poetry?
Do you have a favourite poem?
Do you prefer rhyming verse or free verse?
How long have you been writing poetry?
How did you get your poetry book published?
How long does it take to write a book?
These questions are quite normal. But one question (usually posed by Grade 6 boys) always sets me to thinking more deeply about my response. They raise a hand and ask, ‘Do you like sport?
This question has been raised with me on numerous occasions and it is always posed by boys. I suspect that in the minds of many boys, poetry and sports are viewed as mutually exclusive pursuits. Poetry is seemingly passive and sport, an active pursuit preferred by the majority of male role models in the lives of these boys.
I gently explained that sport and poetry have both been my travelling companions throughout life. There has been plenty of room for both of them as I have journeyed through the years. For me, it was never an either or decision.
Sport has been a strong thread in my life, for as long I can remember. I played football and cricket for as long as my body would allow. Team sports gave me a balanced perspective regarding the twin impostors- victory and defeat. Enduring friendships came from my sporting encounters. I am so grateful for the rich vein of experience connected to my sporting life. I had a strong desire to run quickly and jump a long way, so athletics was the perfect outlet in my youth. It was the perfect release for youthful exuberance. My aching body stands as testimony to a life spent in sporting pursuits.
Poetry ran parallel to sport. It was always there. Throughout my schooling, university and my entire adult life, it has been present, acting like a counter balance. It was never a private passion. I was happy for people to know me for my love of poetry.
So, yes, I do love sport, but I also love poetry. Poetry continues unabated, despite my increasing sporting limitations. There is room in my heart for many different pursuits. Sport and poetry co exist in my life and both of them have provided so many rich experiences. For me, there is harmony. I sometimes write poems about sport to further reinforce that link.
I am not just a poet. It only tells part of who I am. Like an onion, I have layers. I will continue to challenge misconceptions surrounding the arts and sports. I remain, a fully functioning literate sports nut. So boys, feel free to follow my lead, if you wish.
All the kids
Gathered in the park to play cricket.
Banger Barnes was batting—
The ball exploded from the bat.
High in the sky it flew,
Above the trees,
Away into the dazzling sunlight;
Out of the park
And over the road.
It bounced beside Mrs. Bradford’s cat, Boofhead and
Then bounced again
Before shattering Mr. Stravlakis’s front window.
Over in the park, everyone froze.
Natalie nicked off,
Flynn flew the coop,
Wazza whisked to the woods,
And Banger Barnes hotfooted it home,
Like Speedy Gonzales yelling, “Arriba, Arriba! Ándale!”
When Mr. Stravlakis entered the park,
All the kids had split …