Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Richard Langston discusses A Tingling Catch

Richard Langston discussed A Tingling Catch with Jim Mora on Friday afternoon on Radio NZ National’s Afternoons (15/10/2010). Here’s the link to the downloadable audio version from The Panel, Part II:
Here's a transcript of Richard's talk:

Richard Langston: There’s a new book out edited by Wellington poet Mark Pirie and he’s a cricket nut and he’s edited this wonderful collection of cricket poems: A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009 and called it A Tingling Catch.
  It has some of the stuff you’d expect: Brian Turner and Harry Ricketts who are well known fans of cricket, but it also has other poets you might not expect to find in a cricket anthology such as Elizabeth Smither (from New Plymouth) who writes two excellent poems and also people who are kind of ‘outsider’ poets like Peter Olds in Dunedin and Geoff Cochrane in Wellington who also write about the game.
  So, it’s a really interesting collection. It’s not the sort of collection that celebrates great moments in sport. It celebrates all the peculiarities of cricket and people’s attitudes towards it and the oddities the game has thrown up and there’s lots of curiosities, including two poems that somebody [Graham Hutchins] found in a scorebook in Dunedin. I want to believe that’s true, that they were found in a scorebook in Dunedin because it’s such a lovely story and two interesting poems as well.
  The book has many sections in it: straighter stuff and parodies, a lot of humour. I’ve got two poems in the ‘Social Members’ section which is probably a good place for me to be, I was a pretty social cricketer, and my poem I’ll read is called ‘A Peculiar Game Not Played in Oklahoma’:

Once I tried to explain to a bunch
of Americans watching baseball

in a bar the game I loved to play
or watch in summer on a green field

with all the players in white was called
cricket and its highest expression

was played over five days and quite often
after many sessions of ebb and flow

of physical striving after five days
of  mind on mind quite often

there was no result nothing de nada
laughter rocked and tipped the barstools

I worked for three months in Oklahoma cooking burgers and I could never explain cricket to anyone without them falling about laughing, ‘You’re kidding me, man!’
Irene Gardiner: Nothing happens…
Richard Langston: But that’s the marvel of the game.
  Anyway, there’s better poems in the book. Honestly it’s a great read and it’s going to be launched at the end of the month, Sunday October 31, at the Basin Reserve Longroom and NZ Cricket Museum by Don Neely who is better known as a national selector but he has a poem in the book which is a take-off of Shakespeare, ‘To walk or not to walk…’
Jim Mora: That’s interesting, he was a good cricketer and a great cricket writer. What’s it called again?
Richard Langston: A Tingling Catch - and it’s put out by HeadworX, edited by Mark Pirie, and he’s got a blog devoted to the book already.
Jim Mora: Very good, Richard Langston on the Panel with Irene Gardiner.

Thanks, Richard. Richard, a TV3 Campbell Live reporter and poet, has two cricket poems in A Tingling Catch. One of them features a cricket streaker while the other poem is quoted above. Both display Langston’s distinct brand of droll humour. He’s also written another unpublished cricket poem. It’s worth sharing with you here:


In the Deep

Lesser cricketers in quiet stormy corners
of the country were stoic and patient.

‘Wait,’ they’d say expecting disaster.
They had a secret love of rain

of retiring to the damp musty smell
of the shed to stare at the state of their lives

or the want of them. The persistence of rain
sent them off to the pub to muse

of sunny days, of finally getting
on the board.

© Richard Langston, 2010

The poem’s as good an explanation as any I’ve seen of rained off cricket matches. If you’ve ever played club cricket in Wellington during November you are usually somewhere in the deep. You can well understand the frustration of turning up on Saturday to a washed out match and an early beer or shower in the clubrooms. Next Saturday you ‘muse’, you’ll get on the scoreboard. Of course, the poem works on more than one level.

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