I was reading the magazine version of our Distinguished Competition and saw an interesting piece in the Media Blitz section. It read, "Now that his tough rookie year is over, J.J. Redick is focusing his energy on producing a book of poetry." I immediately searched for some of his work and found a few examples and I don't really want to spend a lot of times discussing the merits of his work (it's terrible), but it made me think of the one athlete I know who wrote poetry, relief pitcher Dan Quisenberry. Helicon Nine Editions published Quisenberry's collection of poetry, On Days Like This, and one of his poems was included in the anthology, Line Drives: 100 Contemporary Baseball Poems, alongside poems by critically respected poets such as Beth Ann Fennelly, Yusef Komunyakaa, Wyatt Prunty, Charles Bukowski and Andrew Hudgins. The poem in that anthology, "Baseball Cards" has a nice ending.
I tell folks
I used to be famous
I used to be good
we thought you were bigger
According to a friend from Kansas City, Quisenberry attended a poetry workshop in KC and was genuinely interested in literature, so it's not as if this was just a vanity project for him. Most of his writing seemed to occur after he had retired and I wondered if there were any current pro athletes who also were writing poetry or fiction. I wonder if creative writing might be losing great writers to the NFL and NBA and MLB in the same way that US Tennis is losing great athletes to these same leagues. Of course, I understand why someone might decide to play in the NBA and make millions rather than submit their poems to small journals and attend an MFA program and then end up teaching composition at a small community college in Nebraska, but it would be awesome to open a literary journal and see a bio like:
Lofty Parsons has published poems in Northwest Review, Fence, Carolina Quarterly, and Poetry. He lives in Seattle and currently plays strong safety for the Seattle Seahawks.
Lofty Parsons would immediately become my favorite player.