07:55:18 am on
Monday 23 Oct 2017

Hockey Poetry
David Simmonds

Do you ever get the feeling that reporting of sports is a trifle overwrought? That sometimes it gets just a little bit boring and repetitive. No, me neither.

Still, I wonder whether the sporting reporting authorities have considered moving to a more concise form of explication; that is, putting sports news into terse verse. With verse, you have to wrap your lead into a few short lines and pack a kick in with it.

Let’s give an example. “Al Blodgins potted the first marker at 7:06, of the second period, on a breakaway pass from Bill Smithers. This gave the Ambush the lead, only to see the Icehounds storm back short-handed to net the equalizer at 15:22 of the third period. Then Ambush nabs the winner, one minute into overtime, on a blazing slapshot from the point that was tipped past Ambush goalie Ned Farnsworthy by big forward Tim Flanders, for his eighth of the season.” This is a standard example of hockey reporting. Wouldn’t it be better, even occasionally, to state it all a little more poetically?

Perhaps something like this might work,
The game was tied, so overtime
A winner would anoint
And Flanders tipped in number eight
On a slapshot from the point.

Now, perhaps, that may not be the best example I could use, but you get the point. In fact, having taken a look at the first ten days or so of the NHL playoffs and associated NHL news, I suggest that Bill Shakespeare or Bob Frost might have been handed some stories to rewrite, and would have come up with something better than the following,

No Boston no Los Angeles
Ex champions both fell short
Oh well: they say that tiddledywinks
Is a halfway decent sport
Oh Jets! Oh Jets! What have you done,
Lost four straight to the Ducks
No way to sugar coat this news
Cos simply put, it sucks!

A whisker got the Penguins in
They’d need Sid Crosby’s drive
But once they dropped the playoff puck
The Rangers won in five
Lightning Wings Blackhawks Preds
Isles Caps Wild and Blues
Each series went at least six games
So there wasn’t much to choose
The Sens fans thought that they had died
And then gone on to heaven
But luck ran out against the Habs
They couldn’t force game seven
Two western teams were head to head
The Flames and the Canucks
The Flames would bask in glory’s light
The other guys were schmucks
The Stanley Cup’s a vicious grind
To find out which team’s best
Who will make it? I predict
One each from east and west

And in other hockey news:
The Oilers finished last - again
And draft pick first - again
Rewarded for incompetence, some say
They begin again - again
The Leafs cleaned house - the surest sign
Their team’s an empty vessel
What will they get - some broken sticks
For stars Phaneuf and Kessel?

I should emphasize that the foregoing is merely illustrative of the possibilities inherent in poetic sports writing. I have only given this my usual 103.5 per cent, when the industry standard is 110 per cent or better. In fact, maybe I’ll just stop here and go on to the back of the paper where there is a column, by James Hurst, that reads much better than any poetry.

 

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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