Of Soccer & Poetry

I’m gonna use soccer as a metaphor for poetry

Now poetry is like soccer in some ways and very
different from soccer in other ways but it will be
useful as a tool for talking about poetry

Soccer is a team sport and there are lots of people to
Poetry is a singleton sport and you have no one to
blame but yourself

Both require heart
Both require a combination of conscience thought and
gut level reaction
Both require discipline and practice
Both can be sooooo very satisfying when you win and
kinda nasty when you lose
	not as nasty as a fight to the death, but then we are
civilized, are we not?

Most people write poetry and don’t really care if it
is good or bad
You are not one of those people

It is good to care about whatever you're playing at
When you play soccer you need to be serious about the
But can a player be too serious?
Yes, they get so frustrated that they start missing
shots that would be easy for them if they would just
relax a bit (not all the way, just a bit)
They lose focus and start grumbling about how wet the
field is
Or sweat got in their eyes

When you play soccer there must be some ‘play’ to it
You must be playful
Same with poetry
You must be playful with it sometimes
If it is not for fun then what is it for

You must find a balance between seriousness and
Either extreme is OK but you will never be very  good
at the game

Now soccer breaks into two parts
Craft and Heart

The craft of soccer is how well you get your foot
around the ball
How well you can turn a ball
How well you know where the other player is and how
well you can guess what they are thinking
The craft of soccer is what you improve through
And practice is very important

You make your mistakes in practice and you learn from
You watch other players in practice and you learn from
You think about your game at practice and you learn
from it

You do not think about making your foot get around the
If you are thinking about exactly how to position your
foot you will miss the shot
You tell your foot
“Get the ball” and then you think about something
else, if you over think the process you will take too
What’s funny to me is that when you do this in your
poetry you call it a ‘blurt’
The way your foot goes around the ball is best known
by your foot
The way your words go around your poem is best known
by your hand not your mind
All poetry that is good is a blurt

Now about Heart
Practice can take you far but it will never take you
to a win
For that you need heart
What does it feel like when you are right in the grove
And the ball is lined up perfectly and the goalie is
asleep and you have that perfect shot
And you know, even before your foot hits the ball that
it going to be perfect
You feel this in your heart and you must let the heart
get to your foot
It is the most satisfying feeling in the world
It is perfection
Its what all the practice was for and it is more

You asked
> How do you know what your reacting to when you write
> something?
I would say that you probably don’t know what your
reacting to in your mind
But in your heart you know
And you feel that you have lined that sucker up
And you kick that poem right past the goalie into the
net (computers are great nets for this sort of thing)
I know something I’ve written is good because I can
feel its in the groove
And I really can’t see the meaning myself until much
But I know its good ~ SCORE!
Take that sucker, go home and tell your mama she
dresses you funny (or whatever you say in your head,
because they will give you a card if you say it out

Now if you want my input on craft
Then you must tell me that you want it
No problem, just kinda boring
But hey, that’s what practice is for

Good poetry has good craft and good heart
Craft is something you can practice and improve
Heart is something you are born with
I have seen great heart in you and that is why you
can’t get rid of me so easily

I will talk to you about your craft but the heart is
so much more interesting
When I go to a soccer game I never blame the craft of
the players, that’s their problem
I just figure they didn’t have enough heart

I think you want to do good poetry right off the bat
Without practice (I was the same way about piano,
remind me to give you some of my music)
And that’s OK but your craft will not improve very
quickly that way
Poetry must flow from you on a regular basis if it is
going to improve
There is no perfect poem
There is just perfect poetry craft
I also think you want to hide your heart because
sometimes your work is very cryptic
I have to work hard to unravel the meaning, but hey, I
love working hard to unravel your meanings because
they are usually worth it and I love the challenge
You work makes me think (I always refer to poems as
‘work’, because its not the poem it’s the process, the
crafting of the poetry that I like)

So here’s the wrap up
Practice your craft by writing a bunch of stuff as
often as you can in small black books
Pry your hands off you heart and let it run free in
your words
	say all the stuff you’ve always wanted to say but
were afraid
Let’er rip

About wmburns

wow Always hate these self aggrandizing bio thingys ~ but what the hey . . . I phased into existence in Washington DC circa early 1950's put

Posted on November 9, 2011, in Poem, WM Burns and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. It’s iambic pentameter running down the wing,
    Look at the words roll,
    A cross to Stanza, on loan from Moscow Dynamo, who shoots with a ping,
    And it’s a Gooooooooooaaaaaaallll!

    Good one, Bill.

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