April 12, 2016

Friday, August 3, 2012

Poetry Friday: NPR's Poetry Games

It's almost week two of the 2012 Olympics. As many have stated, there was a long tradition -- sadly, now ended -- of poetry concurrent with athletics in Olympic celebrations.

National Public Radio is trying in a small, but fun, way to bring the Olympic poetic tradition back.

In honor of the 2012 Olympic Games, you can visit NPR's Poetry Games. There are five poems competing at the NPR Poetry Games site. Each one represents a different country. Each one also represents a different Olympic sport.

The U.S.'s contribution is "The Wrestler" by Kazim Ali. (My son wrestled for seven years and our family has a love-hate relationship with the sport. There were things I loved and recognized as true in this poem, but it was also painful to hear -- as the sport can be painful to watch for families.)
I will be voting for "Lifting" by Ouyang Yu, who is representing either his native China or Australia. But I'm an honest judge and I am looking for overall performance, not country.


For years
I have been dreaming
of turning
writing into a sport
in the Olympic Games
that is called, tentatively
in which I'd give
my simplest performance
by lifting
the lightest and the liveliest
word: Love

Read the rest at NPR's Poetry Games. Then, read the other four entries and vote. You will find poems about wrestling, swimming, tae kwon do, and diving, as well as the lifting poem by Ouyang Yu.

Although I think we've seen enough competition lately, I love the idea of the Poetry Games. Through NPR's program, I've been reading poets from other cultures who are new to me, and also experiencing sport, not through a commentator's banter, but through the rich language of poetry.

Writing Exercise: take an Olympic sport and change its name to suggest the atheticism of writing. Write a poem about it. Water Polo (what's up with NBC's huge amount of coverage) = Word Polo, Volleyball = Verbyball, the long jumper could be going for a leap over longer and longer sentences. It's a stretch, but something to have fun with.

This week's Poetry Friday host is Rena at On the Way to Somewhere.

P.S. For those of you who wanted to vote in the Fascination Awards, voting is now open. Author Amok is in the running for a "Best Creative Writing Teacher Blog." The nominated post features Poetry Friday's Robyn Hood Black!


Robyn Hood Black said...

How fun! Thanks for sharing, Laura - love the idea of "wordlifting"!

Mary Lee said...

I'm off to check out the poetry competition. I have pretty much kept clear of the Olympics on TV. If I could just watch the events without the commentators and the commercials, I'd be fine. It gets to be too much really quickly.

Tabatha said...

I couldn't choose! They were all winners in my book.

Author Amok said...

Robyn, I agree. It's a beautiful poem. He takes sport and returns it to the realm of spirit with such apparent ease.

Mary Lee -- have fun over there. I've been so frustrated with the coverage, though I admit to staying up late for the women's team gymnastics. (Really, NBC, are Russia and the U.S. the *only* teams worthy of air time?)

Tabatha -- you would not be able to work as an Olympic judge. There's a deeper conversation here about poetry and the nature of competition. Do they really go together?

rena traxel said...

"Wordlifting" I love that.

Irene Latham said...

Great poems... I can't say I've ever thought of the word "love" as light. Interesting! I sort of have a problem with voting for poetry... I noticed RATTLE has introduced a reader's choice award... I need to think about why that bothers me. I am all for recognizing the many diverse voices and styles... I guess it's just never apples to apples in my mind. I get different things out of different poems. And how discouraging to the writer who doesn't win? Sigh. HOWEVER. You and Robyn certainly get my vote!