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Line Drives: 100 Contemporary Baseball Poems (Writing Baseball) Paperback – March 29, 2002
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For example, Joseph Stanton's "Stealing Home" describes both that amazing baseball feat and the difficulties someone faces when trying to return to a childhood home that now feels like a "strange city," while Richard Behm's "Looking for the Baseball" raises questions about changing beliefs as we grow up. "That intellect should doubt itself, / is that the beginning of faith again," and if so, is it of "the old simple faith"? "No," Behan answers. "Something/ else then, a greater faith, and less." He uses the search for a missing baseball as a metaphor for coming to grips with one's loss of faith, and suggests that, perhaps like the baseball found on the edge of a field, the answer was always there before us.
In "The Cure," Katherine Harer writes that baseball brings out "our best hope the best we have to give" as "we coach the best out of one another." There is innocence in the hope wehave that each batter could be the one to start the rally, and that is why "baseball is a good antidote for death." It is
into this one afternoon
you can do it
you can do it for us
do it now come on
do it now
David Baker's "Cardinals in Spring," like Harer's poem, gives new life to the idea that baseball can inspire hope in all of us. Looking backto Busch Stadium in 1968, describing the fans in the stadium now as much as then, he asks, "aren't we, in each other, renewed?"
There are few cliched images in this collection, and any poems that at first appear to cover old terrain soon turn those images into new insights. David C. Ward's "Isn't it pretty to think so?" reconsiders the image of a father and son bonding as they play catch. He offers us the idealized imageand then a different reality, one where a "beaten father" beats down his son with "a stinging rebuke" as the two play catch. "'Come on! / Be a man!"' he yells, "stitches thrumming / redly, welting a child's palm."
Other poems describe kids learning the game, adults playing for fun, and former major leaguers engaging their skills again, albeit diminished with age. "The Retarded Children Play Baseball" shows us a game where no one really cares that the official rules are not being followed. "Both teams / are so in love with this moment / when the bat makes the ball jump / or fly" that it does not matter that they will probably never learn the "right" way to play the game.
For fans of the game's history, there are poems that take us inside specific games or seasons, consider the importance of Mantle or Ruth, talk about the tragedy of Donnie Moore, and relate the importance of Ernie Harwell to an elderly fan. The late Dan Quisenberry's contribution, "Baseball Cards," chronicles his career through the pictures fans saw on his cards and reveals what was really happening (nerves, stress, losing time with family, fear of the end of a career) behind those public images.
Charles Bukowski's "Betting on the Muse" reminds us that while professional athletes' lives may seem perfect, they often struggle because their successes come when they are so young. He writes:
this is why I chose to be a writer.
if you're worth just half-a-damn
you can keep your hustle going
until the last minute of the last day.
you can keep
getting better instead of worse,
you can still keep
hitting them over the wall.
The contributors to Line Drives are proof of Bukowski s message; rarely isan anthology of poetry so consistently strong. The poems put baseball into perspective-examining how it fits into our lives, how it forms a backdrop for important memories, how it offers us chances to consider past friendships. Read this anthology; then share it with friends who love baseball, who love poetry, or who merely want an opportunity to reflect on life itself.
From the Publisher
Poetry and baseball are occasions for well-put passion and expressive pondering, and just as passionate attention transforms the prose of everyday life into poetry, it also transforms this game we write about, play, or watch. Editors Brooke Horvath and Tim Wiles unite their own passion for baseball and poetry in this collection, Line Drives: 100 Contemporary Baseball Poems, providing a forum for ninety-two poets. Line after line, like baseball itself game after game and season after season, these poems manage to make the old and the familiar new and surprising.
The poems in these pages invite interrogation, and the reader-like the true baseball fan-must be willing to play the game, for these poems are fun, fresh, angry, nostalgic, meditative, and meant to be read aloud. They are keen on taking us deeply into baseball as sport and intent on offering countless metaphors for exploring history, religion, love, family, and self-identity. Each poem delivers images of pure beauty as the poets speak of murder and ghost runners and old ball gloves, of baseball as a tie that binds families-and indeed the nation-together, of the game as a stage upon which no-nonsense grit and skill are routinely displayed, and of the delight experienced in being one amid a mindlessly happy crowd. This book is true to the game's long season and to the lives of those the game engages. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I keep this book on my nightstand and try to read one poem each night before I go to sleep. Except I often have a hard time reading just one.
I also appreciated that the poems collected here do not revert to cliché comparisons or images when they connect baseball to life. In fact, some of them work against clichés. David C. Ward's "Isn't it pretty to think so?" challenges the idealization of fathers and sons playing catch and reminds us that individual experience is much more powerful and thought-provoking than any (false) perfect image. The poems felt fresh and that was in large part because many of the poets used personal experience as the starting point, reaching out to the game to make connections between their lives and those of the reader. As a result, I think that even those who are not baseball fans would appreciate and enjoy many of these poems. As a baseball fan, I know I'll enjoy rereading this collection and I think most baseball fans would as well.