OUTDOORS: Poetry, baseball to combine in Port Townsend

By Michael Carman

POETRY AND BASEBALL, linked together since the game first grew to popularity more than a century ago, will intertwine once again Wednesday at the Rose Theatre's Starlight Room in Port Townsend.

One of baseball's most famous films, the minor league classic “Bull Durham,” prefaced by a short sampling of poetry awaits attendees at “An Evening of Poetry and Baseball.”

The opening pitch, or poem rather, is set for 7:15 p.m. with Port Townsend's Copper Canyon Press copublisher Joseph Bednarik leading the Starlight All-Stars, a collection of area poetry enthusiasts, in reciting some of their most treasured poems.

Why does the connection between baseball and poetry exist?

“I think part of it is there is slow and deep reading in a baseball game,” Bednarik said.

“There's lots of nuance, lots of time to consider, to pause and reflect and then a brief flurry of action that could be akin to a flash of insight that can be found in a poem.”

Not every poem will concern ballparks as cathedrals, or shortstops handling hard hops — the evening also is presented in honor of April's status as National Poetry Month.

One of the Starlight All-Stars, Bob Francis, with his wife Kathy, “runs” Port Townsend's Poetry Post, a former real estate flier box, repurposed into a home for the Poem of the Month.

The couple picks a poem, makes a couple hundred copies and stock the box, located in front of their home across from the Port Townsend Post Office, when supplies dwindle.

Francis will read a poem from former poet laureate of the United States and avowed baseball fan Donald Hall.

Another of the Starlight All-Stars is the aptly named Sandy Diamond.

In Bull Durham, Annie Savoy, (played by Susan Sarandon), is a longtime Durham resident who belongs to the “Church of Baseball,” and employs famed poets Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson in her seasonal seduction of a new rookie member of the Durham Bulls minor league baseball team.

Bulls coaches don't mind; every rookie she beds ends up having a great season.

“I Sing the Body Electric” from Whitman's Leaves of Grass is her go-to pitch in the boudoir.

Promising pitching phenom Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh (Tim Robbins) is her latest target and is entranced after a particularly enticing recitation.

The film also stars Kevin Costner as minor league journeyman catcher Crash Davis, placed at low-level Durham to mentor and tutor LaLoosh as the kid makes his way to the big leagues, while Davis also tries to set a futile record: most home runs hit by a minor leaguer.

Costner is given many of the choicest lines in a film that's as loaded as the Mariners lineup used to be back at the turn of the century.

“It's really about honoring the effort in the trenches, this minor league guy going for a record that frankly nobody will ever remember except for him,” Bednarik said.

“It also speaks to control as LaLoosh is clearly going to be a star if he can harness his ability.

“And the mentor/student relationship, where Crash knows he's not going anywhere with his career but if he can build up this last protege, he'll have an impact and a part of him will continue, and that certainly resonates with people.”

The Starlight Room is a gem, a collection of comfortable couches and chairs set up in the former Elks Club ballroom above the Silverwater Cafe, next door to the Rose Theatre.

I watched a movie there in December and endorse it wholeheartedly.

You can order a beer or a glass of wine or champagne,and the Silverwater Cafe will have an appropriate appetizer, sliders, available to order along with ballpark franks.

Tickets are $12 and are available to those 21 and older at the Rose Theatre box office located at 235 Taylor St., in Port Townsend, or online at
rosetheatre.com.

________

Outdoors columnist Michael Carman appears here Thursdays and Fridays. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at mcarman@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 16. 2014 6:12PM
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