Friday, March 25, 2011

Adrienne Jansen’s NZ cricket poem

Last week, I came across the following poem by Wellington writer Adrienne Jansen. It was in her first collection published by Linzy Forbes’s Inkweed in 2001.
In A Tingling Catch, I have a whole section of poems about kids playing cricket called ‘Boys’ Songs’. I struggled with the section title ‘boys’ at the time as most people are aware that girls play Junior cricket too. My nephew plays against some mixed teams in his Year Two Milo Kiwi grade in Wellington. Yet, in the course of constructing the anthology, there weren’t any poems about girls playing cricket that I found. I didn’t have time to go through all the school annuals around the country. Perhaps a more detailed search would’ve unearthed some poems about girls playing cricket. So in the end, I only had a section of boys’ poems.
The following poem by Adrienne Jansen is also about a boy playing cricket, this time in his family home. Often it’s how kids learn early ball skills by practicing wherever they can, sometimes inside the house as the poem humorously observes. Or perhaps just in their imagination. Backyard cricket is probably more common. I love the ending. Presumably it's referring to the "World Series Cricket" ODI of 3 January 1988, when Border was lbw to Hadlee for 3. New Zealand went on to win the exciting match by 1 run at the WACA ground in Perth. I don’t think I’ve seen Australian great Allan Border mentioned before in a New Zealand poem. Hadlee, of course, takes the honours:


Sunday morning, 1988

Ben is bowling at the Australians
having hit a brilliant century
right down the hall.
Paul is riding his yellow bike
straight down the pitch
and over all the spectators.
Murray is lying in bed reading Jung.
I am trying to listen to
Spanish dances, played on guitar
by a Cuban called barrueco.
According to the cover
he has a curved black beard
and eyes which say
he lives through doors
of brilliant red and long deep shadow,
and perhaps, for just one moment,
I could join him there.

But Ben is back, to show exactly
how Hadlee bowled out Border.

Poem © Adrienne Jansen 2001

(From a stone seat and a shadow tree by Adrienne Jansen, Inkweed, 2001)

Adrienne Jansen is a Wellington writer. She teaches on the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme and also works at Te Papa as a writer.

Thanks Linzy and Adrienne for permission to use.

1 comment:

  1. I like the romantic dreaming about foreign countries where English is not spoken, being broken into by the eruption of the boy with his report of the most English of games (which has, of course, reached its apotheosis in far-flung places). The subtle use of rhymes within the poem (black, back; hall, all) adds a certain strength to the seeming randomness. And wasn't Jung given to ideas about the collective unconscious? The idea of playing for a national team must be part of the desire of many people, only expressed in children's games.

    It's a real shame you couldn't include poems about girls and cricket; their experiences as junior players, and, of course those who make it to women's teams are still so marginalised.