This week’s post is by poet and guest blogger Adrian Ernesto Cepeda.
Although some might disagree, in my mind, sports and poetry are synonymous. There was nothing like Magic Johnson making a behind-the-back bounce pass during the heyday of Lakers ‘Showtime’ or seeing David Beckham perfectly bend a free kick into a goal. As a writer, I take my cues and work ethic not only from famous scribes and poets, but also from the highest caliber of athletes. Only the best train and practice every day to become the greatest in their sport. I take this into consideration every time I sit in my writing chair. To me, working on drafts is equivalent to a basketball player shooting hoops for practice. I know some drafts are not going to be perfect, just like not every shot is going to go through the net, but that doesn’t mean I don’t shoot the ball. My creative mindset has been inspired by my love of sports. My passion on the page is equal to an athlete’s passion on the field and court.
Being a poet who’s often lazy, though, I’ve had to find creative ways to motivate myself to write. What works for me, as a sports fan, are rewards. If there’s a game on TV, I have to work for the match I want to watch. Before the game starts, I write. Sometimes I am so into my poems that I keep writing—and by the time I look at the TV the game is half over. There will always be another game, but if I neglect the muse, there may not be another poem. Writing always wins out in the end.
Of all sports, futbol is my absolute favorite. Even my wife realizes soccer is my love and my mistress. I always say she knows where to find me: in front of the TV set, dressed in my favorite team’s kit, ready for the romance on the field to begin with a whistle and a sensual kick of the ball.
This summer I read one of the best books ever written about my favorite sport: Eduardo Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow. This author knows how it feels to be in love with this beautiful game. No one has ever described a score in soccer so perfectly and eloquently as Galeano does in Soccer in Sun and Shadow:
“The goal is soccer’s orgasm. And like orgasms, goals have become less frequent occurrences in modern life.”
I can relate to Galeano’s description. I remember watching this year’s World Cup. My wife can attest: when John Brooks scored in the 80th minute of the match for the United States, I yelled out the loudest barbaric yawp. Our neighbors could’ve sworn we were having sex in our apartment. Since goals are a rarity in huge international matches, to experience a win is sometimes like climaxing in bed.
Soccer is a fever. Once the common sports fan catches it, s/he can never extinguish the passionate love for this beautiful game. No one has ever described the joy of watching soccer like Eduardo Galeano:
“The excitement unleashed whenever the white bullet makes the net ripple might appear mysterious or crazy, but remember, the miracle does not happen often. The goal, even if it be a little one, is always a gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal in the throat of the commentators. A “do” sung from the chest that […] breaks free of the earth and flies through the air.”
Some of you are probably wondering why sports—and more specifically soccer—are my creative motivations. As a poet, the passionate concentration these players exude on the grassy pitch mirrors the dedication I experience when writing poems. I want to work as hard as these athletes do in their sport. A victory for me is feeling that aura of exhaustion after finishing a poem, like the perspiration an athlete feels after the final whistle. It’s more than a game to me. In my mind, to be the best in your own field, whether it be in soccer, painting, or writing, you must give your craft that same devotion. My own goal will shine like trophies. They are collected between lines on my page.