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Problems with poetry

May 20, 2013

Writing The Deconstruction of Professor Thrub, I had to create various fraudulent artifacts: fake academic essays, newspaper columns, a love letter. But the toughest bit was creating Lempi’s poems. Lempi is the narrator’s translator, and the object of his desire, and she’s also a poet. I wanted to include some of her poems, but, unfortunately, what I know about poetry wouldn’t fill a haiku. Still, I’ve been giving it a go, and yesterday I wrote a poem about squash (the sport, not the vegetable). Seriously.

Match Point

Fifth game, match point
you and I, squashed

between the side wall comet tails
of previous play.

The cracks and screams
of drives and drops

from other courts
you’ve won on before.

And now, as then, you serve
deep to my backhand

the serve you served
alone, on January mornings

ghosting on empty courts
in practice for me.

Cornered, I boast
the shot you knew I’d play.

So we will kill and volley
lunge and lob, miss nicks
hit cross-courts, and all the time

we choreograph this space
together.

BackthebidI made the mistake of reading this poem at the pub last night – it wasn’t treated with the gravitas it deserved – but the real question is ‘why squash’? I took up squash a few years ago, having reached the age at which it was either that or have an affair. Boom boom. No, I’d been discouraged from playing contact sports, I was chronically unfit, and I had no friends. Think about it: Squash is highly competitive, but it’s unique among racket sports in that the players must share space and cooperate to keep the game flowing and safe; squash is easily accessible (you can get a racket for £10 and you’re good to go), but it’s an intense form of exercise, and it was rated as the world’s healthiest sport by Forbes Magazine; and squash is one of few sports that one can happily play alone. Squash is bidding to be in the 2020 Olympics, and this video explains some of the reasons why it should be included.

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