All week we’ve been watching exceptional athletes push, contort and will their bodies to do remarkable things. But with the pageantry and psychological drama of the Olympics, it can be easy to overlook the grace and poetry of the sports themselves.
Not at the Los Angeles Review of Books. Over the course of the London Games, poets are taking to our pages to meditate on the lyricism and beauty of sports from archery to swimming. Today’s installment of We Can Be Heroes looks at the poetry of table tennis and track and field.
Poetry and table tennis are games of reflex. They are played optimally — and play is the operative word — in the synaptic space where consciousness has no time to abstract into self-recrimination. There is no beauty in the reflex itself, there is beauty in its timing. That is, there is beauty in the relation between stimulus and reflex. In poetry, language is the stimulus we are responding to, as it accommodates and counters our efforts.