Wednesday, May 02, 2012


Notes (Gleaned Specifically for Poetry) from April 20, 2012 Boxing Session:

--the jab is a taunt, a feint, an exploration, a set-up. From that jab, the boxing "conversation" (see letter below) may begin. Hence, the jab can be a metaphor for the poem's first line

--boxers (or any jousters across martial arts forms?) actually don't want to be filled with adrenaline as they begin a bout. Irony: the boxing arena replete with adrenalin from the excited audience et al. But within that storm the boxer ideally wants to be as cool as possible. Heart beat is often slow, if measured. Among other things, adrenalin tightens up the body and you want the body as loose as possible to engage. Reminds me of the volta from, say, the effective haiku. As opposed to a poem where the energy is constantly brimming across all or most words and lines.

--Practice, practice, practice (see letter below re Ali practicing the taking of punches). Write, write, write until the memory becomes muscled memory--you can tell this if the writing the first word of a poem immediately tips you into that "space" from which poems flow.

--As I cheerfully told Julio my trainer, when it comes to martial arts I'm just a tourist. No one knows this better than my Kali teacher Michelle who shares the letter below in response to some of my notes on gleaning poetic notes from my pathetic boxing exercises. If you're in the Bay Area, I recommend hitting sticks with Michelle; click on the link and you see her sipping a cuppa java, which is how I usually picture her in moi mind: one hand holding up a coffee cup to her lips while the other hand (just one hand) takes down two men with black belt finesse. Not a drop to be spilled! Anyway, here's her letter, the poetics of which would be that a poem, too, should be a "conversation":

I read your post on learning various boxing combinations.

I've always taught my students that sparring is a conversation. Part of the reason a person doesn't throw cross cross cross is because people typically aren't recordings and the combinations are in response to the opponents reactions to the first punch. Jab, they go this way to walk into the cross. A constant call and response. And like any language learning, the first things you get are individual words, then learning to speak in sentences, then actually learning to listen to what the other person is saying.

Ali was as eloquent a boxer as he was a speaker. While he would drop his hands and taunt his opponent to go ahead and hit him, it was a rare fighter who fall for his gimme. Alternatively, he was also known during practices to simply ride the ropes and learn to take punches using the ropes to dissipate the power.

Tyson controlled a match through sheer domination. He talked over his opponents and wouldn't let them get a word in at all. I've actually been wanting to go to Vegas and watch his 1-man show. He's a lot smarter than his public image makes him out to be.

Throwing a punch both provides opportunity to strike, yet creates a vulnerability. Punch high, leaves your stomach open. Punch low, leaves your face. There is a need to lay one's self out yet find a way to protect what's vulnerable.

Hope boxing is fun! It's certainly quite a workout!

Yes dears, this Chatty One also is here to serve you sports fans...

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