Last week, Stephen Dunn, a professor of creative writing at Richard Stockton College in Pomona, N.J., won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his 11th collection, Different Hours. Dunn, who played basketball at Hofstra in the late '50s, has used sports in his work as a metaphor for the travails of everyday life. Here are excerpts from some of his sports-themed poems.
From Losing Steps
It's probably a Sunday morning
in a pickup game, and it's clear
you've begun to leave
fewer people behind.
Your fakes are as good as ever,
but when you move
you're like the Southern Pacific
the first time a car kept up with it,
your opponent at your hip,
with you all the way
to the rim. Five years earlier
he'd have been part of the air
that stayed behind you
in your ascendance.
On the sidelines they're saying,
He's lost a step.
Later while they make love, he thinks of
Mantle's long home run in the '57 Series.
The Gauchos cornered me
behind the 7-Eleven;
a broken finger, bloody nose.
Something attacked my father's heart.
The horse in the fifth
My crucial shot rolled round
the rim, then out.