Sunday, December 12, 2010

Joseph Romanos discusses A Tingling Catch

Well known sports commentator and writer Joseph Romanos discussed A Tingling Catch with Kathryn Ryan on "9 to Noon", Friday 26 November 2010.
Here's the link to the downloadable audio version:
Here’s a transcript of their discussion for those who can't download the audio version:

Kathryn: Shall we talk about A Tingling Catch first?
Joseph: Yeah, let’s talk about it, as it’s unusual.
Kathryn: Let’s talk about it. Why not? A Tingling Catch: A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009, well, that’s longer than a century, a long century, got your hundred and fifty up, almost, well not quite. We know we've got some wonderful writers writing about sport and cricket but did we ever know we had so many...
Joseph: Well, it’s a collection by a Wellington bloke Mark Pirie who’s a cricket lover but really he collects poetry, he’s a poet and did an Arts degree in English and so on.
  I think it’s the first collection of cricket poetry in the world as a national collection from one country and this collection as it says here goes back to 1864, a poem [by Samuel Butler] that was in the Christchurch Press about the English cricket team that toured here in 1864. I think it’s really fantastic, I mean there are people who contributed to this book like John Clarke (aka Fred Dagg) and David McGill (a well known author) as well as your Brian Turners, Denis Glovers and so on. I mean there’s a collection of people, some of them are not well known for writing literature and some of them are not known as poets but they’re all in this book, it’s very interesting. And the other thing is Kathryn the way he’s gone about it. I mean the guy’s a fanatic, he said to me he went down to the Turnbull Library and asked for their collection of New Zealand Cricketer  - that was a magazine that started in the 1960s. So they brought him up every edition and gave him some funny sideways looks and he just went through turning page after page and he said…
Kathryn: Looking for poems?
Joseph: Yeah, and he said it was like walking along a beach, upturning stones and every now and then you uncover a gem.
Kathryn: I handed over my collection of cricket annuals once to a secondhand shop, had every year for about 12-13 years edited by Don Neely, who I think has written the foreword for this. I found some poetry in that, one by Brian Turner for his brother Glenn in 1976 - I think it was - when there was this stoush going on…
Joseph: Glenn wasn’t that popular then.
Kathryn: And it was completely over my head. What it talked about and what I remember, I’m not sure whether it’s in the poem now - forgive me, Brian, if I’m wrong here – was the idea of the gear being put away, like, you know, in a wardrobe over the winter months and the crusty bits of grass around, the spikes, the physicality of it. You could smell it.
Joseph: Good eh.
Kathryn: And the political overtones went completely over my head. But there’s certainly a tradition of it.
Joseph: There is. There’s a lot of good Brian Turner work. There’s one here he’s written, a sonnet about Ken Wadsworth, when Ken Wadsworth had died. Wadsworth was a New Zealand wicketkeeper before he died from cancer when he was only 29, and he was playing.
Kathryn: He was still playing wasn’t he?
Joseph: Yeah, just finished making a fifty in a One-Dayer. Very nice. It was read at his funeral, it was a eulogy at the Wadsworth funeral. And there’s a great one here about the First World War. I mean there’s some very moving stuff in here. I think it’s a really nice collection. It’s a lovely idea.
  He said he couldn’t fit all the poems in this book which is 180 odd pages so he started a website and put the rest of them on there, and he said he’s been amazed how many more poems have come in since then which have gone on the website. So he may have started something. He said he’s had enquiries from all round the world about it.
Kathryn: It’s a sport more than any other that lends itself to poetry because of the vagaries of cricket, the length of time, the physical environment…
Joseph: And the other thing he said to me about it is that cricket lends itself to poetry because of the weird words like ‘square leg’, ‘silly mid-on’, ‘cover’, all those.
Kathryn: How do you get a rhyme with ‘silly mid-on’?
Joseph: Yeah but it’s evocative isn’t it?
Kathryn: ‘Deep fine leg’…there’s quite a few when you think about it.
Joseph: Very much so. I won’t go into them all. And so he said these words lend themselves to poetry…
Kathryn: ‘Middle stump’, you know…
Joseph: Yeah, so it’s a good collection.
Kathryn: What about the likes of Glover who is first and foremost, as is Brian Turner, recognised for poetry … although I should recall [Brian's] days as a New Zealand hockey rep… [Brian]’s first and foremost known for poetry. How have [those like Glover] approached what they’ve written?
Joseph: Well, he’s gone through and pulled out any poems by anyone whether it pertains to New Zealand cricket. It could be Thomas Bracken or Brian Turner. It could be anyone. So people find themselves in this book who aren’t really poets but they might have written a sonnet once and got it published in the 1972 June edition of New Zealand Cricketer, and here it is.
But he has tried to get good poems. He hasn’t put anything in here.
Kathryn: It’s funny. It’s a wonderful tradition and one that’s slightly been lost. I’m interested to see it revived this week in this circumstance. The idea of writing as a means of recording how people are feeling, a record of what people are expressing, and a lot of those old sports magazines used to run them as a matter of course in poems.
Joseph: It’s true. I like the title A Tingling Catch, it’s from a line by one of the poets [Seaforth Mackenzie]. It’s nice isn’t it.
Kathryn: A Tingling Catch: the hand can tingle, it certainly can and wicketkeepers have got plenty of experience of that.
Joseph: Plenty of tingling.
Kathryn: Now, to the sport.

Joseph also discussed A Tingling Catch on Radio Sport, Saturday, 27 November 2010 and read a poem from the book, 'Ken Wadsworth' by Brian Turner.
I hear A Tingling Catch has been selling very well at Unity Books in Wellington.
Thanks Joseph

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