Friday, April 29, 2011

Linda Sue Park - Explaining Baseball to an Alien

Explaining Baseball to an Alien
Linda Sue Park

This poem is a sijo. Sijo is a traditional Korean form of poetry. Like a Japanese haiku, a sijo is written using a syllabic structure. In its most common form, a sijo in English has three lines of fourteen to sixteen syllables. Each line in a sijo has a special purpose. The first line introduces the topic. The second line develops the topic further. And the third line always contains some kind of twist--humor or irony, an unexpected image, a pun, or a play on words.

(Description adapted from TAP DANCING ON THE ROOF, by Linda Sue Park, which contains many more examples of sijo and a fuller explanation of the form.)

Hmmm, where to start? There are nine players in the field—but wait,
the game’s starting, Mets-Yankees! We’ll watch it together.
When you have a question, just poke me with one of your tentacles.

© Linda Sue Park. All rights reserved.

Linda Sue Park had me at "hello" - or really with her poem's title. I'm a big baseball fan, for starters, and since I tend to find her writing out of this world, there was an extra level of satisfaction already. Up until this poem, the only other sijo I'd read had been from Tap Dancing on the Roof (illustrated by Istvan Banyai)... and I have to say the whole experience has made me a fan of the form. I love humor, twists, and unexpected imagery, and, well, now baseball pushes me to start writing 'em myself. Or trying, anyway!

This is interesting, actually, because often when I read Linda Sue Park's work (her novels or even her villanelle last time she was here), my first reaction after absorbing the story is "whoa! I wish I could write like that!" I know I'm not alone in that reaction, but, of course, she is one of a kind... and I'm thrilled to have her here as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

And hey... it's Poetry Friday, with this week's roundup of poetic goodies at The Opposite of Indifference. Go on and check it out!

Yesterday we ended with Kurt Cyrus and The Mummy and the Mermaid. Later today, Kristine O'Connell George with Daze of the Week! For more information on 30 Poets/30 Days and how to follow along, please click here.


tanita✿davis said...

Ooh! New-to-me poetic form!! Must try! Like haiku, though, I have a sneaking suspicion that they only LOOK simple...

Jane Heitman Healy said...

Linda Sue, thanks for introducing me to a new poetry form and for a good laugh! Greg, thanks for inviting Linda Sue!

Amanda said...

What a fun form!