This morning my wife tossed the Trib Tempo section at me and said, “Julia Keller is stealing your thunder.”
My immediate response: “If she’s stealing it, it wasn’t much thunder to begin with.”
Then I looked at the page, and saw that Keller was doing what the scribes at BARDBALL have been doing for five months: Trying to capture the spirit of the baseball season in rhyme.
I don’t know what to feel about this. Keller is one of my least favorite local journalists. She may have won a Pulitzer (at least that’s what the paper trumpets), but that doesn’t excuse her for the typical mulligatawny of cliche observations, stale trendspotting, strange analogies and Tourette’s-like transitions she ladles out with rash-inducing regularity. Reading one of her columns is like listening to a radio that changes its channels and volume on its own. I personally think she’s a few steps away from bag-womanhood, and expect to see her on the middle of the Michigan Avenue bridge someday screaming about rabid space bats and their overlord, Justin Timberlake.
So should I be happy she’s delving into baseball poetry, and thus giving the field a bit of exposure? Should I be proud that I’m once again a few months ahead of the cultural curve? If the cultural curve is measured by the Keller-o-Meter, though, should I scuttle the whole BARDBALL operation and hope my friends will forgive me? Is it inevitable, if BARDBALL is dedicated to “baseball doggerel”, that it’s style would be copied by hack writers nationwide?
Her limericks about the Cubs aren’t bad, really, no worse than some of the ones BARDBALL has published this summer. You can check them out here at the Trib, along with a neat little music-slide show. (It pays to have a little corporate funding, I guess.) So what will probably happen is, I’ll realize any like-minded effort is good publicity, even if she didn’t mention BARDBALL, which was profiled in the Trib two months ago. Then I’ll go into schmooze mode, make a note to invite her to any BARDBALL readings we have, and if the opportunity arises, stroke her a little for the effort. It’s bad practice to start literary feuds over a limerick.
(And I’d like to point out that BARDBALL, as of today, has now published 110 poems, and has included at least one poem about every team in the major leagues, as well as the Israel Baseball League. Which is no mean feat. It’s easy for writers to praise the present successes and mock the disasters, but how do you get excited enough to write about the middling teams, the .500 teams, the teams with no tradition? Well, one way is to make fun of players’ names. But I’ll write more about poets’ secrets at a later time.)
UPDATE — The Trib site asked readers to contribute their own limericks to the mix, so Stu Shea and I started working on some to oh-so-subtly advertise Bardball. I submitted the limerick below, but as of now, it’s still not up. I think the Trib wasn’t ready to handle reader submissions, b/c the last one they list is from 10:29 in the morning.
A limerick contest’s the bomb
To salute the Cubs’ current aplomb.
For the rhyme and the reason
For the WHOLE baseball season,
Just log on to BARDBALL.COM !