Any sport in which “love means nothing” has got a bit of poetry to it to begin with, and now Wimbledon has made it official. The British tennis championship has appointed British wordsmith Matt Harvey as its official poet, and as such he will be composing a poem a day for the entirety of the two-week proceedings.
He’s already written his first contribution, entitled “The Grandest of Slams.” It starts “Excuse me. I’m sorry. I speak as an/ Englishman./For the game of lawn tennis there’s no better symbol than Wimbledon.” Harvey is the first person to hold this newly minted position. (No, Walt Whitman did not write Leaves of Grass about the Wimbledon courts.) I think this is a great precedent to set, and I wouldn’t mind seeing official poets for other athletic events, as well. I could see a number of sports working well: Football (“In New Orleans did the NFL/A stately Superdome decree”), hockey (“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackhawk”), and even golf (“Tiger, Tiger burning bright.”) What do you think? Do poetry and athletics go together? Is this a good way to smarten up sports, a good way to dumb down literature, or both?