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Thursday, 7 February 2013

Joseph Ceravolo: Beginner Method


Boy at bat in a softball game in Hiland Park, Brooklyn, July 1974

Stand with feet apart
Hold the bat up and back
Hips level, knees bent
Keep eyes level, head straight
Watch ball, keep eyes on ball.

Weight shifted slightly to back leg
Keep eyes on ball
Snap or swing bat at ball
with level, slightly upward motion
holding onto bat with both hands
shifting weight slightly forward.
Follow swing through,
holding onto bat with both hands.
When ball is hit at split second
let the body do what feels right for you.

Puerto Rican boy playing ball in Hiland Park, Brooklyn, July 1974

Three boys and "A Train" graffiti, Lynch Park, Brooklyn, June 1974

Photos by Danny Lyon (1942-) for the Environmental Protection Agency's DOCUMERICA project (U.S. National Archives)
Joseph Ceravolo (1934-1988): Beginner Method, 4 May 1987, from Mad Angels (poems 1976-1988) in Collected Poems, 2013


TC said...

I've been a fan of Joe Ceravolo's work... well, forever.

In an earlier stage of glaciation, I published some of Joe's great early poems in The Paris Review.

Here's a review I wrote of Joe's 1965 "C" press mimeo edition, Fits of Dawn -- the book with which this astonishing poet first swept me off my feet and turned my head round sideways:

TC: Poetry Chronicle, Poetry Magazine, May 1967: reviews Joe Ceravolo, Fits of Dawn, on pp 110-111

The present poem was writ in the last year of Joe's too-short life.

For a taste of his classic earlier work, some selections:

Joseph Ceravolo: Dusk

Joseph Ceravolo: Lighthouse

Joseph Ceravolo: May

Anonymous said...

lovely...simple and beautiful

TC said...

Thanks Sandra, it was the simplicity that drew me to this one.

Joe C was great poet (but never a "scenemaker", which is why it's taken till well after his death for the great American poetry-industry bandwagon machine to load him on board as cargo), working man, family man, devoted father of three kids, and it's my guess this piece was meant as a sort of home instructional text for the latter.

Even poetry can be useful at times!

Hazen said...

Ceravolo knocks this beauty out of the park. In his instructions, so direct and to the point, one feels a father’s affection for the batter-to-be.

TC said...

I thought that too, Hazen.

Wooden Boy said...

Whether it's the body of the text or that of flesh and bone, there's always that delicate attention in his work.

That final bodily freedom given to the batter is beautiful.

TC said...

Yes, and I think you've brought this round to another way this small poem might work: as an instructional text in the composition of poetry.

Keeping things simple, attention always on the alert, open and ready, full seizure of the moment, leaving the thought behind, capturing the feeling, lifting off into it and following through with every bit of whatever strength you've got.

Nora said...

This is wonderful (and the pictures!). I've been thinking of taking on 'Stars of the Trees and Ponds' at some point during my year of memorizing and illustrating poetry, but I have to say I'm a little intimidated by it.

TC said...


That's a great poem, I'm sure your skills would be equal to the task.

Don't hold back! Do it!

Wooden Boy said...

I'd love to see that, Nora.