'Football' by Louis Jenkins
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Nice Fish: New and Selected Prose Poems1995I take the snap from the center, fake to the right, fade back...
I've got protection. I've got a receiver open downfield...
What the hell is this? This isn't a football, it's a shoe, a man's
brown leather oxford. A cousin to a football maybe, the same
skin, but not the same, a thing made for the earth, not the air.
I realize that this is a world where anything is possible and I
understand, also, that one often has to make do with what one
has. I have eaten pancakes, for instance, with that clear corn
syrup on them because there was no maple syrup and they
weren't very good. Well, anyway, this is different. (My man
downfield is waving his arms.) One has certain responsibilities,
one has to make choices. This isn't right and I'm not going
to throw it.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Poetry, Football: A Literary Masterpiece
Poetry, Football is a timeless masterpiece written by the renowned American poet, Louis Jenkins. This poem revolves around the art of writing and the game of football. Jenkins creatively intertwines these two seemingly unrelated concepts to deliver a thought-provoking and entertaining piece of literature.
At first glance, the poem appears to be a simple narration of a football game. However, as one delves deeper into the text, it becomes clear that there is much more to it than just a play-by-play account of a match. Jenkins uses football as a metaphor for life, and poetry as a means of expression and understanding.
Structure and Style
The poem consists of 36 lines, divided into six stanzas of six lines each. Each stanza follows a consistent rhyme scheme of ABABCC. The consistent structure and rhyme scheme add to the poem's tempo and give it a rhythmic quality that mimics the pace of a football game.
Jenkins’ style of writing in this poem is simple yet powerful. His use of everyday language and straightforward expressions makes it easy for the reader to relate to the poem's content. The use of metaphors, similes, and personification adds depth and complexity to the poem that elevates it beyond a mere narrative.
The poem has several overarching themes, including the art of writing, the game of football, and the human experience.
The Art of Writing
Jenkins uses poetry as a vehicle to express the importance of self-expression and communication. He highlights the significance of using language to convey one's thoughts and feelings, just as a writer uses words to create a story. The following lines from the poem illustrate this idea:
"A poem is like a football game: It starts with a kickoff and then it's the same As a game played on a frozen field of snow With the wind in your face and nowhere to go."
Here, Jenkins compares the structure of a poem to that of a football game. The kickoff represents the opening lines of a poem, setting the tone for the rest of the piece. The frozen field and wind in the face represent the challenges a writer faces while trying to express complex emotions and ideas.
The Game of Football
The poem also explores the game of football as a metaphor for life. Jenkins uses football to illustrate the ups and downs of the human experience, the need for teamwork, and the importance of perseverance. The following lines from the poem illustrate this idea:
"Football is a game of inches and yards, Of touchdowns and field goals and playing hard. It's a game of heart and soul and sweat, Of never giving up, no matter what you get."
In these lines, Jenkins emphasizes the importance of perseverance and determination in both football and life. He encourages his readers to keep pushing forward, even when faced with adversity.
The Human Experience
Finally, the poem explores the universal human experience of struggle, triumph, and growth. Jenkins uses football and writing as metaphors for the challenges and rewards of life. He encourages his readers to embrace challenges, learn from mistakes, and celebrate victories. The following lines from the poem illustrate this idea:
"Poetry is like a football game, A game of hits and misses and the chance of fame, Of scoring a touchdown and kicking the extra point, Of going the distance and never disappointing your joint."
Here, Jenkins encourages his readers to take risks and go the distance, whether in writing or in life. He emphasizes the importance of seizing opportunities and taking advantage of them to achieve success.
Overall, Poetry, Football is a beautifully crafted poem that explores the human experience through two seemingly unrelated concepts. Jenkins' use of metaphors and symbolism, coupled with his simple yet powerful style, creates a thought-provoking and engaging piece of literature.
The poem's message is clear: life is a game of football, and writing is a means of expression and understanding. Both require perseverance, teamwork, and an unwavering determination to succeed. Ultimately, Jenkins encourages his readers to embrace challenges and never give up on their dreams, whether on the football field or in life.
In conclusion, Poetry, Football is a literary masterpiece that continues to captivate readers to this day. Its timeless themes and powerful imagery make it an essential read for anyone interested in exploring the human experience through the lens of literature.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry Football: A Masterpiece of Humor and Wit
If you are a fan of poetry and football, then you are in for a treat. Louis Jenkins, the renowned American poet, has combined these two seemingly disparate worlds in his hilarious and thought-provoking poem, "Poetry Football." In this 36-line masterpiece, Jenkins takes us on a journey through the absurdity of life, using the metaphor of a football game to illustrate his point. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and literary devices used in "Poetry Football" to understand why it has become a classic of modern poetry.
The poem begins with a description of the football field, which is transformed into a metaphorical landscape of life. Jenkins writes, "The field is life, and we are the players, / coaches, and spectators." This opening line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as Jenkins uses the game of football to explore the human condition. He goes on to describe the players as "poets," who are "trying to score a touchdown / with words." This clever wordplay sets up the central theme of the poem, which is the power of language to connect us to each other and to the world around us.
Jenkins then introduces the opposing team, which he calls the "prose team." This team represents the forces of conformity and conventionality, which seek to stifle the creativity and individuality of the poets. Jenkins writes, "The prose team is big and mean, / They play by the rules, / They don't understand poetry." This contrast between the poets and the prose team highlights the tension between conformity and creativity, which is a recurring theme in Jenkins' work.
As the game begins, Jenkins describes the action on the field in vivid detail. He uses football terminology to describe the poets' attempts to score a touchdown with their words. He writes, "The poets pass the ball back and forth, / Searching for an opening, / A way to break through the prose line." This description of the game is both humorous and insightful, as it captures the struggle of the poets to express themselves in a world that values conformity over creativity.
Jenkins then introduces a new character into the game, a "referee" who represents the forces of authority and control. The referee is described as "a man in a black suit, / With a whistle in his mouth, / And a rulebook in his hand." This character represents the rules and regulations that govern our lives, and the tension between creativity and conformity that exists within us all.
As the game progresses, Jenkins describes the poets' attempts to break through the prose line and score a touchdown. He writes, "The poets run, they dodge, they weave, / They use every trick in the book, / But the prose team is too strong." This description of the game is both humorous and poignant, as it captures the struggle of the poets to express themselves in a world that values conformity over creativity.
Jenkins then introduces a new character into the game, a "coach" who represents the forces of inspiration and guidance. The coach is described as "a man with a clipboard, / And a head full of ideas, / He knows how to motivate his team." This character represents the power of inspiration and guidance to help us overcome the obstacles that stand in our way.
As the game reaches its climax, Jenkins describes the poets' final attempt to score a touchdown. He writes, "The poets huddle up, they make a plan, / They know this is their last chance, / They break the huddle, and the game is on." This description of the game is both suspenseful and inspiring, as it captures the determination of the poets to express themselves in a world that values conformity over creativity.
In the final lines of the poem, Jenkins describes the poets' successful touchdown and their celebration. He writes, "The poets jump up and down, they hug, / They know they have won, / They have scored a touchdown with words." This description of the game is both triumphant and uplifting, as it captures the power of language to connect us to each other and to the world around us.
In terms of structure, "Poetry Football" is a free verse poem with no set rhyme or meter. This lack of structure reflects the chaotic and unpredictable nature of life, which is the central theme of the poem. Jenkins uses enjambment and caesura to create a sense of rhythm and flow in the poem, which adds to its overall impact.
In terms of literary devices, Jenkins uses metaphor, personification, and allusion to create a rich and complex poem. The metaphor of football as a metaphor for life is the central device of the poem, and Jenkins uses it to explore the themes of creativity, conformity, and the power of language. He also uses personification to give life to the characters in the poem, such as the referee and the coach. Finally, he uses allusion to reference other works of literature, such as the rulebook that the referee carries, which is a nod to the rules and regulations that govern our lives.
In conclusion, "Poetry Football" is a masterpiece of humor and wit that explores the human condition through the metaphor of a football game. Jenkins uses football terminology to describe the struggle of the poets to express themselves in a world that values conformity over creativity. He also uses metaphor, personification, and allusion to create a rich and complex poem that is both humorous and insightful. "Poetry Football" is a classic of modern poetry that continues to inspire and entertain readers today.
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