Poetry and Sport
Film has "Bend it like Beckham", prose has "The loneliness of the
long-distance runner". Camus was an excellent football player and Beckett loved
cricket. But where are the sport poems? Initiatives like the Center for Sports Poetry
aim to encourage children (especially boys) to write poetry by writing about something
that interests them, but what about adult poets? I've found little of
value. Here are a few places to start looking
In the UK football attracts the majority of poets' attention with several
clubs having poet laureates. Recently the poet laureate
Andrew Motion (an Arsenal fan) helped judge a Football Chants competition.
Jonny Hurst, a 37-year-old Birmingham City fan beat over 1,500 contenders.
Andrew Motion was joined on the judging panel by Barnsley FC poet in residence Ian McMillan, football commentator Stuart Hall, Chris Moyles and Comedy Dave from BBC Radio 1, and Nic Gault of Barclaycard.
- "Themes: Sport and Leisure", ed John Skull, Heinemann, 1970
- "Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature".
- "Way to Go!: Sports Poems", edited by Lillian Morrison (Boyds Mill, 2001).
- "Girls Got Game: Short Stories and Poems", edited by Sue Macy (Henry Holt, 2001).
- "Opening Day: Sports Poems", by Scott Medlock (Harcourt, 1996).
- In 2004 Angus Calder published some poems
about curling in "Sun Behind the Castle" which includes other non-sporting poems.
- Vernon Scannell (once a boxer) wrote some boxing poems. Arlott wrote
cricket poems. Betjeman touched on tennis, golf, horses, etc
- "Not Just a Game: Sporting Poetry" (eds Andy Croft and Sue Dymoke), Five
Leaves Publications, 2006
- "Never Mind the Ball: 100 Favourite Football Poems" (ed Alistair Findley), Luath Press Ltd, 2009
The sponsors Barclaycard insist that football chanting is a modern day art form, and that chants have "moved on enormously from the 60s and 70s and are increasingly more melodic, intelligent and humorous in content".
Updated December 2008
Tim Love (with help from HN)