Sunday, May 26, 2013

Day two at Headingley: A Joe Root poem

Play finally got under way in the Second Test at Headingley. Vettori didn't make the New Zealand XI.
England made three hundred odd for the loss of seven wickets from 94 overs, so it will be hard for New Zealand to win from here and square the series.
Still, from a cricket watcher’s point-of-view, Joe Root making his maiden Test century was the highlight and I've composed a Joe Root ‘concrete poem’ below.
When I first started writing at 18, I came across North American poet John Hollander’s concrete poem from the late ’60s. It was included in the 1970s US school anthology The Lyric Potential given to me as a child in San Francisco. (An article about it appeared on my website.) Hollander’s poem ‘Under a Beach Umbrella’ was in the shape of a beach umbrella, a fun idea that appealed to me as a young student.
I wrote a few in my book, No Joke (2001): one in the shape of an electric rock guitar and the other in the shape of a jazz trumpet.
Of course, concrete poetry dates back centuries: George Herbert’s 17th century ‘Easter Wings’ for example and even Dylan Thomas’s 20th century sequence ‘Vision and Prayer’ before the concrete poetry movement was in full swing in the 1950s and '60s. In New Zealand, the contemporary poet Michele Leggott (among others like Alan Wells) has made use of concrete poems composing a sequence, ‘Tigers’, in the form of globes.
The idea to make a new concrete cricket poem came to me after following young English batsman Joe Root’s great start to the season: several first class hundreds (including one double hundred) plus his 71 in the Lord’s Test last weekend, and now his maiden century at Headingly this weekend. Congratulations, Joe.
Here is my Joe Root poem in the shape of his bat.

Joe Root’s bat

(a concrete poem)

J  O  E
R O  O
T  B  A
T  T   I
N G  ’S
A  H  O
O  T  I
F  Y O
U  A R
E  J  O
E  R O
O  T

Poem © Mark Pirie 2013

If you work out the e. e. cummings-like riddle of the words: it reads like an epigram: “Joe Root, Joe Root, batting’s a hoot, if you’re Joe Root…”
Kevin Pietersen was my favourite batsman of the current crop but Joe Root is definitely a batsman to watch.

Article © Mark Pirie 2013

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