Boog City Baseball Issue Wants You! [Maybe]

According to its associated Facebook group, Boog City, which probably isn’t named after Boog Powell, “is a small press now its 20th year. It’s also an East Village community newspaper of the same name. The press has published more than three dozen volumes of poetry and various zines, featuring … theme issues on topics ranging from baseball to women’s writing, Louisville, Ky. to The Ramones…”

According a post in said Facebook group, Boog City is putting together another baseball issue; presumably anyone can submit baseball-themed poems or art.

A previous baseball issue of Boog City is available for viewing, the premise of which, in the words of editor David A. Kirschenbaum, was this: “A major league roster has 25 players on it, so I found 25 poets I dig who were willing to write an original baseball poem. I then assigned them each a position on a baseball team, from starting pitcher to backup first baseman, and everything in between. They were then told to pick anyone in the history of baseball who has ever played their position, be it in Major League Baseball, the Negro Leagues, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the minor leagues, college, a kid from the schoolyard, or anyone else and write a new poem about them.”

The issue, published in 2006, includes poems about and/or dedicated to Robinson Cano, Satchel Paige, Bob Tillman, Frank Robinson, Fernando Valenzuela, and lots of others, famous and not-so-famous, many of them Yankees (because ~95% of poets live in or have lived in New York City).

A couple of highlights, then…

First, those-who-live-in-their-mothers’-basements are possibly called out by Anselm Berrigan in his poem “To Bernie Williams”:

Bernie, the stat-heads freak when the fans in the Bronx scream their love for you. How can they understand such purity?

Of course, it is sort of vague to whom “they” refers. I think any “stat-head” would agree that Bernie Williams was an excellent hitter, especially for a nearly decade-long stretch from 1994-2002, but that his value was mitigated by singularly awful defense.

Next, consider this “ad” placed by the Cincinnati-based Cy Press, which is run by one of my favorite poets and one hell of a model American, Dana Ward:

Another highlight:

Melissa Zexter‘s Gorman Thomas, as produced in Boog City Issue 37, June 2006.

My favorite poems in the issue are “Phenom Fan” by Jim Behrle (p. 4), and “A Biography of Rollie Fingers” by Alli Warren (p. 8), which ends perfectly: “Without the slightest effort, meat produces / Every sound contained in human language. / Voila, Rollie‚Äôs a pop. Long live actuality.”

You should read these poems, if you like that sort of thing, and you should submit your own serious baseball poetry to Boog City Issue 80 — if you like that sort of thing.

Overall, Boog City Issue 37 was pretty decent. A few of the poets took the opportunity to do try to do something political, most of which fell flat for me, but I understand the desire to use the opportunity that way: baseball is a politicizing. Some of the poems do experimental/poetical things that might be lost on more casual readers, and that I am ill-equipped and unmotivated to discuss in this forum. But some of the poems offer delightful and moving surprises, both technically and/or in terms of their baseballing content. The issue is worth a perusal for the sake of those moments, and as a who’s who of contemporary poets who have written poems about baseball.

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The following is a bad poem of several minutes’ composition which has suffered no editing and which is submitted for no more prestigious a place than the comments on a NotGraphs article:

Rumpelstiltskin came to bat
In knee-high socks and outsized hat
Into the box he lit a jig,
Knocked at his jock and fluffed his wig

His cuffs and sleeves all hemmed with gold,
His posture haughty, pert — so bold! —
His laces hung like unstrung purse,
He muttered a Teutonic curse

Rumpelstiltskin came to bat
And when his pompous feet were flat
I hit him in the neck, I did;
He’d thieved two piglets and a kid

Absconding with my stock to sell,
He’d crowned his cap with gleaming bell
Which tinkled now as he’d convulse;
The blow had pressured back his pulse

Veins engorged, his throat to bind;
His bulging eyes were smitten blind
Agape, his lips bore foam like rust
He crumbled there in midday dust

But for gurgling stricken dumb
As on the fields at Il-i-um

Murmurs rose, the crowd irate,
But judges did acquit me straight
No starting pitcher with a ball:
An ump am I; I made the call

Rumpelstiltskin came to bat
I killed the bastard just like that

We regret that we were not able to work the word “Kraut” into the piece, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to spend time thinking about this.