Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Monday, November 2, 2009

Baseball and Poetry: David Citino

Who in the world do you think you are?

Last night, while watching the World Series with my son, I recalled the famous photograph of Marianne Moore throwing a first pitch at Yankee Stadium, and I considered all the allusions to baseball I had seen in poems or essays by poets over the years, some of which are chronicled at one of the Poetry Foundation’s pages devoted to baseball and verse. I also remembered references to baseball as a metaphor for life lessons, including studying poetry, a perspective particularly offered repeatedly by the late poet David Citino, who died of complications from multiple sclerosis during the baseball post-season of 2005.

David Citino’s fondness for baseball could be found in his personal life as an avid fan and little league coach, as well as in his poetry and prose, particularly in a chapter, “I Don’t Care If I Never Get Back,” from his fine book of essays and memoirs, Paperwork (Kent State University Press, 2003), where Citino declares: “Poetry and baseball go way back. Walt Whitman filed what I like to think of as one of the first reports from spring training, in 1846. He happened upon ‘several parties of youngsters playing “base,” a certain game of ball.’ Whitman seems always to speak the truth with both clarity and exuberance. ‘The game of ball,’ he says, ‘is glorious.’”

Citino liked to note the ways baseball seemed to connect generations to one another, as when I watch the World Series with my son, and he enjoyed comparing poetry to baseball: “A poem and a baseball game have many similarities. Both involve skill and rules, talent and tradition, beauty and grace, the use of time and space. Everything matters between the lines.”

In a terrific collection of essays by poets that Citino earlier had edited—The Eye of the Poet: Six Views on the Art and Craft of Poetry (Oxford University Press, 2002), which includes commentary by David Baker, Billy Collins, Yusef Komunyakaa, Maxine Kumin, Carol Muske, and Ann Townsend—Citino as well presented a piece he’d written with advice for beginning poets on obtaining knowledge about the art of poetry, “Tell Me How It Was in the Old Days: In Search of the Poet.” In the opening of his essay, Citino reminisces about a situation he also would repeat in Paperwork, a series of events that began when he’d been a fifth-grader wanting to discover how to pitch well and seeking out advice of an older kid at school:

I went to a ninth-grader to learn how to throw a curve ball. He showed me. “You grip the seams. You snap your wrist down, as if you held a match a second too long.” Then one day the coach of my little league team, with even more wisdom won from age, told me not to throw a curve at all until I reached sixteen and started to get my grown-up body, or I’d do irreparable damage to my elbow. (Perhaps there are moves, twists, and velocities that younger poets should wait to try. I need to investigate this further.)

Years later, an opposing coach, after his team had knocked me around quite smartly, my best pitches whizzing back past my ears, told me that he had alerted his team to the fact that, whenever I threw the curve, I tipped my hand by sticking out my tongue a little, as if I were concentrating.

“Son,” he said to me, “you have to learn, when you throw the bender, to keep your damn tongue in your mouth.”

Live and learn. I hadn’t known that the art is to hide the art. A pitcher or poet needs (I hope this doesn’t mix the metaphor too violently) a poker face, so as not to announce to the batter or reader his or her intentions. I’ve never forgotten this kindness extended to an enemy—nor have I forgotten the importance to the poet of having a reader with a good eye and ear. Those paunchy, grizzled men sitting in dugouts are there for a reason. Those poets—women and men—sitting on benches back in the mists of time also are there for a reason. It’s all about coaching and being able to take constructive criticism. The hardest lesson young pitchers and young poets have to learn is that their job is to listen, and to read, carefully.

The young have it over the older generations in everything but those degrees earned in schools of hard knocks. Many of the birds setting off on migrations and falling into the sea or getting lost under a maze of spinning stars—each year tens of thousands of birds never make it on their long and arduous journeys—are young ones who never made the trip before. Birds, baseball players, and poets need to find out what was in order to understand better what is. I tell student poets that the best way to develop is to read poetry of all ages and all cultures, to ask of every poet, Who in the world do you think you are? The answer varies of course from poet to poet (as it does from pitcher to pitcher), but also from poem to poem.

Readers are also invited to examine a previous post at “One Poet’s Notes” relating to this topic: “David Bottoms: ‘Sign for My Father, Who Stressed the Bunt.’”


Anonymous said...

As a poet, I appreciate your words.....as a mother watching her son, with his father, really enjoying the game; well, I appreciate your words

Joelle Biele said...

Thanks so much for this--I love Citino's poems that use newspaper articles--I'll have to find The Eye of the Poet-- Thanks, too, for posting the Moore photo--

Benjamin Vogt said...

Wonderful! David was my MFA director at Ohio State when I graduated in 2003. I often came in to his office just to pick a fight--his Cleveland Indians vs. my Minnesota Twins. He was always gracious, so much so that at times I swore he might be for the Twins. One fall, when the Indians didn't make it to the post season, I gave him a Twins Homer Hanky. In the words you quoted above I certainly hear his voice as clear as day. (And to the other commenter, I still write poems based on news clippings--he had us write one a week!)