Sunday, April 05, 2009

Play Ball!

{Photos by rocketlass.}

Having a couple of years ago written an entire article about poetry and baseball for the Poetry Foundation, I'm always excited when I encounter a poet who's also a baseball fan. So imagine how pleased I was when I learned, in Sawako Nasayaku's introduction to her translation of Takashi Hiraide's wonderful For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut (2008), that not only is Hiraide a baseball fan, but that in 1989 he wrote a whole book on the conjunction between poetry and the game, The Poetics of Baseball! It doesn't appear to have been translated into English, but this is that time of year when hope is said to spring eternal, right?

For now, however, in honor of the end of winter--which will officially come at 7:05 tonight, weather forecasts be damned--is a segment I love from For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut:
We are running low on things to bat. Go to bat. Hold the timber vertically, thrust it slowly toward heaven (dizzying over the blue), then quietly lower it to chest level, relax, and brace yourself. A single whiff of lightning will descend through the grain of wood. From across the field, a fist-sized corpse candle comes burning in a loose curve. Give, for an instant, and bat. We are running low on things to bat. Go to bat.
Here's to that whiff of lightning, and to not running out of things to bat until Hallowe'en has come and gone. Play ball!


  1. Your piece on baseball and poetry was great. I hadn't read it before, but it's perfect for a day when the sun is shining and the home team is getting ready to take BP. Let's play two!

  2. Thanks, Dave. Though it sure doesn't feel like spring here in Chicago today, I'm not giving up my tickets to Monday's opener!