Monday, November 22, 2010

Joseph Romanos' article on A Tingling Catch

I was really pleased when one of my favourite sports writers, Joseph Romanos, asked to interview me for A Tingling Catch.
Meeting Joseph was a great experience. I’ve admired his sports column in The Wellingtonian for a while now, reveling at his almost encyclopedic knowledge of sports history. I like how Joseph resurrects forgotten sporting names, e.g. his ‘Top 10 All Blacks Hookers’ includes Hika Reid - a nice touch!
Joseph has written many books, including an autobiography of Martin Crowe and a lovely book on New Zealand cricket families.
Here is the article Joseph wrote on A Tingling Catch, which was accompanied by a nice photo of me at the Basin Reserve by Jim Chipp:


A tingling collection of cricket poetry

Mark Pirie compares the works in A Tingling Catch, his collection of New Zealand cricket poems, to a cricket team.
"Like any team, there are a few greats and a few making up the numbers. You need them all," he said.
Pirie has produced what is believed to be the first national collection of cricket poems of any country.
With his dual loves of cricket and poetry, he was the right person to attempt this book.
He has been a keen cricket follower since his days with the Onslow junior cricket club and at Wellington College.
Pirie said he got into cricket in the 1980s when the one-day game was exploding.
"I got excited by the day-nighters, and by Lance Cairns hitting all those sixes. These days I follow test cricket more. It's more a game for purists."
Poetry has been a continuing influence in his life. He got into it, he said, through the lyrics of popular music. At university he studied arts and poetry. He became a DJ for Active 89FM and gradually turned his attention more towards poetry.
"People used to tell me I wrote good song lyrics and that I should put out a book, so I gradually got more involved in looking at lyrics in terms of poetry."
But pulling together the collection in A Tingling Catch was a massive undertaking.
"When I was younger I used to read some of Brian Turner's cricket poetry. And at university I was taught by Harry Ricketts, who was cricket-mad.
"That got me thinking it was possible to write cricket poetry. Under Harry Ricketts' influence I wrote some cricket poems as a student."
Since then his cricket poems collection has grown massively.
"I dug deeper. I'd go to the Alexander Turnbull Library and search key words, such as "cricket", "batsman" and "bowler".
"There are about 4000 New Zealand poetry books. I've probably read half of them, so I knew what to look for when I went back to them.
"Sometimes the searching got tedious. You'd go through 10 books and get one poem. But it's like walking along a stony beach and suddenly turning up a gem."
Pirie turned up at the Turnbull Library one day and asked for all the copies of New Zealand Cricketer magazine. "That got a few funny looks. But I turned each page of them and uncovered a few more. You have to do the work."
His favourites? "I like Brian Turner's sonnet about [wicketkeeper] Ken Wadsworth, who was so young when he died. It was read at his funeral."
One poem that had drawn much attention, he said, was Arnold Wall's World War I poem 'A Time Will Come'.
Pirie said cricket seemed to lend itself to poetry. "The terminology helps. All those descriptive words, such as `slips', `square leg', `covers', `sweeper', `silly mid-on' – they're a dream for a poet."
A Tingling Catch is 188 pages long, yet Pirie had to exclude many poems. And since his book was published, more have come to light.
"I've started a blog [Tingling Catch], and added new poems there."
About a dozen of Pirie's own poems are included.
One of the curiosities of the book is that there is work from many noted writers not normally associated with cricket, and occasionally not even with poetry – David McGill, Denis Glover, Elizabeth Smither, Kevin Ireland, Alistair Campbell, Peter Olds, John Clarke [aka Fred Dagg] and Kendrick Smithyman among them.
The earliest work is Samuel Butler's 'The English Cricketers', from a letter to The Press in 1864 about George Parr's touring team.
Even when Pirie had identified the poems he wanted to include, which took five years, it was another year before he gained copyright clearances. These included the front cover illustration of a cricket match at the Basin Reserve, drawn by Jocelyn Galsworthy in 2002.

Avid collector: Cricket poet Mark Pirie at one of his
spiritual homes, the Basin Reserve. Photo © Jim Chipp 

A Tingling Catch, by Mark Pirie (HeadworX), $34.99.

Article © Joseph Romanos

(From The Wellingtonian, 18 November 2010, p. 23)

1 comment:

  1. Good article. Covers a lot in a short piece - thanks Joseph Romanos, thanks Mark.