I’m celebrating! Yesterday I received in the mail my contributor copy of the poetry anthology AND THE CROWD GOES WILD: A GLOBAL GATHERING OF SPORTS POEMS. I also got my first-ever royalty payment (yay!) which made for an exciting mail day.
Last December, a member of my children’s poetry critique group mentioned a call for submissions for a sports-themed poetry anthology. Many in the group jumped on the sports-poem bandwagon. But I was stuck. I didn’t play team sports in high school, and I’m only a casual sports fan – and when I say casual, I mean that I’m not a sports fan at all. I tend to know what’s going on with the Red Sox because it is impossible not to here in the middle of Red Sox Nation, and I’m a loyal Olympics-watcher, but that’s about it.
Without much hope, I waited for inspiration to strike. My crit group partners were posting fabulous poems about football, diving, baseball, even bowling. Surely I could come up with SOMEthing. But no. Finally, during the Superbowl, and with the anthology deadline approaching, the idea bells went off as I watched the cameras focusing on the fans in the crowd – the ones with the blue hair and the body paint and those giant foam fingers. I realized that as much as I enjoy watching a great game (and I do, even when I don’t know who, exactly, is playing), I’m also fascinated by the other people watching the game. It’s the fans — with their diehard loyalty, their superstitions, and their desire to bring good luck to their team — who inspired the poem that ultimately was accepted and published in the anthology. ‘Superfan’ is about a fan who is convinced that his shirt is what’s bringing good luck to his team – and refuses to wash it for fear the luck would wash away in the laundry.
For me, writing and publishing ‘Superfan’ was a great writing lesson. Good writing isn’t always about being an expert in the subject matter – it’s about being a good observer, and finding an emotional truth to relate to. Even though I’m not a sports fan, I do know what it is like to root for something, and to feel superstitious. And I can write about that.
Now, dear readers, I hope you will tolerate a quick plug for the book (available from Amazon). I spent an enjoyable 40 minutes reading it last night. The 50 poems in the collection span the gamut from silly (mine!) to thoughtful, without being too obscure for 8-12 year old readers. They also represent 31 different poetic forms which keeps things interesting. The adorable illustrations by Kevin Sylvester add a perfect touch. And it’s small enough to be a stocking stuffer. 🙂
To hear some truly wonderful excerpts from the book, please visit Renée LaTulippe’s blog, No Water River. She recently invited five poets to add readings to her poetry video library, and interviewed the anthology’s editors, Carol-Ann Hoyte and Heidi Bee Roemer.