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Release: April 5, 2001

Baseball, hoop dreams and other sports poems

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Sports are like sonnets. Sonnets are like sports," wrote writer John Edgar Wideman in a forward to "Motion: American Sports Poems," a new anthology of sports poetry just released from the University of Iowa Press. Noah Blaustein, a graduate of the University of Massachusetts MFA program, edited the anthology that includes poems by Raymond Carver, Thom Gunn, Diane Ackerman, Marvin Bell and others who pay tribute to everyday athletes, legendary sports figures and to sport itself.

William Heyen idolizes Mickey Mantle for his 52 homers in '56 long before he turned into a Brylcreem pitchman. Marvin Bell picks up steam in "Slow," where in 44 lines a runner, fatigued in the first 15 minutes of a run, outpaces his fatigue, energized to take hills and stretching his endurance beyond two hours.

At its heart, Blaustein's anthology reflects sports as Americana, where in the competition of games, hope springs eternal and transcends most worldly encumbrances, even race.

Michael S. Harper captures the spirit of long-forgotten black sports greats, remembering Negro Leagues founder Josh Gibson, his days as a Globetrotter and pays homage to fireball pitcher Satchel Paige, while with the same pen, immortalizes Jackie Robinson.

Marge Piercy's panegyric "Morning Athletes" commends the nearly everyday ritual of two mid-life women who run side by side, awkward in their baggy improvisations, two bundles of rejects from the thrift shop.

"We are rich earthy cooks both of us and the flesh we are working off was put on with grave pleasure…It's not the running I love, thump thump with my leaden feet that only infrequently are winged and prancing, but the light that glints off the cattails as the wind furrows them."

"Motion" also contains poems by Pulitzer Prize winning writers Carl Sandburg and Elizabeth Bishop, the UI's Christopher Merrill, director of the International Writing Program, and more than 80 other notable poets.

"Motion" is available in bookstores or directly from the UI Press at or Megan Scott at or at 1-800-621-2736.