The Sporting Muse

A Critical Study of Poetry about Athletes and Athletics


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SKU: 9780786417674 Categories: , ,

About the Book

This study analyzes contemporary American sports poetry, demonstrating that poems about sports express common attitudes and showing what the respective sports’ poems say about American culture of the last fifty years. While placing particular emphasis on the hero in American sports poetry, the study proves that a considerable body of sports poetry exists in American culture and that it is worthy of serious analysis.
The study opens with the analysis done so far on sports poetry, articulates methods of approach, and gives a brief history of sports poetry, beginning with victory chants around the tribal campfire. From Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat” to Gibb’s “Listening to the Ballgame,” the body of the work is organized thematically by sport: baseball, football, basketball, women’s sports, and minor sports such as golf, racquet sports, and boxing. The study concludes with a chapter on poems about fans and spectators and a summary of the study’s arguments. Each section gives detailed readings of many poems.

About the Author(s)

Published author and poet Don Johnson is an English professor at the East Tennessee State University, in Johnson City. He lives in Elizabethton, Tennessee.

Bibliographic Details

Don Johnson
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 171
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1767-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      9
Preface      17
Introduction      19

1. “Who the Hell Are You, Kid?” Language, Nostalgia and Identity in the Baseball Poem      33
2. “End-Zones Scored with Darkness”: The Football Poem      67
3. Courtly Love, or The Sound of One Hand Shooting: The Basketball Poem      89
4. Pulling Together: Women’s Sports Poems      103
5. Small Balls, Microcosmic Courts, and Squared Circles: Poems about Golf, Racquet Sports, and Boxing      121
6. The Fat Man and Other Spectators: Poems about Fans      135

Wrap-Up      147

Chapter Notes      151
Bibliography of Primary Works      153
Bibliography of Secondary Works      159
Index      163

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Johnson brings considerable scholarship and passion to his subject…he provides some useful distinctions among many sports…he provides quite a lot of specific examples of first-rate practical criticism, always in a graceful, lucid style. Not only is there a scholar behind these words; there’s also a fine writer…a rare combination. Johnson’s appeal, like that of all good critics, is at the same time analytical and intuitive”—Booklist
  • “Insightful…supremely invitatory…valuable”—Aethlon