16 sports poems, set against one another. Which will be crowned the winner?
Basketball fans might be surprised that Kobe Bryant chose poetry as the medium to announce his official retirement from the NBA, but poetry and athletics have been deeply yoked since ancient Greece. We speak of poems in athletic terms--the "body" of the text, a "muscular" rhythm, "feet," "gait." And we use poetic descriptions in sports: the pitch was "pure poetry," the players got into a "rhythm." Lord Byron was a noted pugilist; the 18th-century haiku masters Buson and Issa enjoyed sumo. Walt Whitman frequently reported on Brooklyn baseball games; Marianne Moore threw out the first pitch of the 1968 baseball season at Yankee Stadium.
In honor of Bryant, I've pitted 16 sports poems against one another--with both "sports" and "poems" arbitrarily defined--in a March Madness-style tournament to determine which sports poem should be crowned victorious. The four regions: Basketball, Baseball, Football, and Running. I've provided analysis below on the results of each match.
Read the full article on the Poetry Foundation website.