Book Acquired Recently: Jill Bialosky’s The Players

Bialosky, Jill. The Players. New York: Knopf, 2015.

I recently read a review of this poetry collection and decided to buy it because it includes a section about baseball. Baseball and poetry are a perfect match for each other because they both invite contemplation. The empty spaces between pitches (which really only seem to be empty) are like the spaces between stanzas: one is being pulled forward by the game’s/poem’s momentum while simultaneously considering what has gone before. Just as a baseball game carries the sport’s history with it in the comparison of statistics between today’s players and those of the past, the ever-constant form of the game (three strikes and you’re out, three outs to an inning, and you play until there is a winner), and as many meditations on the relationship between the sport and America as one chooses to mention, so to does every poem situate itself in the millennia-old tradition of poetry, attempting to make something new out of words worn soft with constant use.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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