Sunday, October 18, 2015

Kevin Varrone, Box Score : An Autobiography

errors are part of the game       my dad used to say      to remain sub-
stance in the face of transubstantiality            is pretty much what hitting
the eephusis all about  :   some things cannot be explained by time
or continuance or        we select our documents to tell our stories     I
mean the city   the gulls           the green & way people           quiero & mill
between innings           mr sutcliffe      the stairway from bluff to
hollow remains                        one of the most fascinating dreams one could
have is of all this broad fenland as a great city playground      wrote a
visitor to the neck in the late 1800’s   :  light  a derivative miracle
comes on         howard got the bat head out & hit that one a country mile
there there now           hush hush swing low   there’s nothing but give &
damn & bring me home & carry me home

Philadelphia poet Kevin Varrone’s Box Score : An Autobiography (Furniture Books, 2014) is an extended exploration into the game of baseball, from its history to folk tales to its overall structure, held together through the author’s long-standing relationship to the game. Through telling the tales of America’s Greatest Sport, it allows Varrone to delve into elements of storytelling from his own past merged with long-forgotten elements of baseball trivia, mixed and re-mixed, interspersed amid prose-poems constructed with a series of pauses held together with staccato precision. At the same time, Varrone is utilizing the information of baseball to create an extended sequence of stand-alone episodes of text, being both his own autobiography and a biography of the sport. Through the stand-alone sections, lines and sentences repeat, recur and are re-ordered for the sake of repurposing meaning, connecting fragments and even confounding any suggestion of narrative.

As well, this text exists as almost a transcription of how the book was originally purposed: as an interactive app, allowing for visuals as well as audio from a number of poets across North America, each reading a poem from Varrone’s manuscript. The poems in Box Score : An Autobiography condense and erase time; each section occurs simultaneously, with a review of the app version suggesting that the order in which we read these sections should be seen as fluid, something the nature of literary print publishing tends to reduce down to the suggestion of a single option. What does the lack of interactivity lose us, and what might we, also, gain?

henry chadwick’s headstone     in brooklyn’s green-wood cemetery
reads     father of baseball    before the   ’46 all star game   ted williams
asked rip sewall if he would throw tht blooper   nl manager charlie
grimm put sewall in     & sd throw that blooper pitch & see if you
can wake up this crowd    sewell    who’d been injured in a hunting
accident the day japanese bombed pearl harbor    faced williams
for a three-run homer   (a deluxe version of the pitch sewell called
a sunday super dooper blooper)     it was the only home run sewell
ever gave up on an eephus in 300-plus big league appearances     &
he’d told williams it was coming again    & images showed williams
had run up out of the batter’s box & was therefore an enjamb-
ment     in violation of   6.03  of the official rules of   baseball
which states     :     a batter’s legal position shall be with both feet
inside the batter’s box

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