Here's the latest:
Storied Charlotte features Chris and writing and baseball this week... https://pages.charlotte.edu/mark-west/blog/category/storied-charlotte/
Celebrating Baseball Poetry with Chris Arvidson
March 27, 2023 by Mark West
For Chris Arvidson, now is a special time of the year. As a lifelong baseball fan, Chris is looking forward to March 30, which is Opening Day for Major League Baseball's 2023 season. As a Charlotte poet, Chris is also looking forward to April, which is National Poetry Month. Chris's love of baseball and her interest in writing poetry are reflected in her two most recent books. In 2017, she published a co-edited volume titled The Love of Baseball: Essays by Lifelong Fans. In 2022, she published a poetry collection titled The House Inside My Head. For readers who want to know more about Chris and her publications, please click on the following link: https://www.chrisarvidson.com/index.htm
I contacted Chris and asked her how she is preparing for this special week. Here is what she sent to me:
I have been searching for some Faygo Red Pop, and I'm dismayed to find that neither Harris Teeter nor Publix seems to carry it any longer. Red Pop, a Detroit original, is my favored choice of beverage for opening day. I shall persevere and figure out where to find it before March 30, when my Detroit Tigers play their first game of the season. On March 31, I'll be at the Charlotte Knights ballpark, in glorious anticipation of the summer to come. I cannot deny that I tear-up for the national anthem that first Spring outing…every time.
Just last week, I stumbled upon The National Baseball Poetry Festival on Facebook. The organizers are throwing a weekend-long baseball poetry event based at a Boston Red Sox AAA affiliate in Worcester, MA. Events include a poetry contest, ballpark tours, an open mic… not bad for a first-year event. You can see more about the festival at: baseballpoetryfest.org.
It really made me think–Worcester? Really? Charlotte could TOTALLY do something like this. Maybe even expand it to a whole writing-about-baseball thing, that wouldn't just be poetry. Although this most poetic of sports certainly does lend itself in that direction. So far, my husband, Henry, thinks it's a great idea, and Jay Ward, Charlotte's first poet laureate, sees merit, too. So, stay tuned. I might just see what I can cook up.
I also asked Chris if she would be willing to share examples of her own baseball poems, and she agreed to do so. The first poem that she provided is about Frances Crockett, the woman who served as the General Manager of the Charlotte O's. The Charlotte O's was the AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles from 1976 to 1987. She was the first woman General Manager in professional baseball.
Here is Chris's poem:
Dear Frances Crockett
By Chris Arvidson
Just about every day
I walk around the ballpark
Where flags with the pictures of past
Ballplayers, owners, and managers wave to me
The legends of Charlotte baseball.
Yours is my favorite – the only woman
You look so serious and businesslike
So smart and professional
Your blond hair stylish and smooth
It's not how I remember you.
I see you decades ago out at the old ballpark
The wooden one that sometimes burned
That sat in the middle of a middle-class neighborhood
Through the open door of the rickety trailer near the front gate
That served as your general manager's office.
You're sitting at a beat-up old desk
A huge fluffy white dog at your feet
And do I recall a cigarette in one waving hand?
The other holding a phone to your ear
As you conducted the team's business.
(This poem appeared in "Nine: A Journal of Baseball History & Culture" Vol. 30 Nos. 1-2, Fall/Spring 2021-22.)
The second poem that Chris shared with me is about Ryan Ripken, a minor-league baseball player. He is the son of baseball legend Cal Ripken, Jr., who played for the Charlotte O's in 1980. Here is Chris's poem:
Hello Ryan Ripken (For Robyn)
By Chris Arvidson
Ryan Ripken came up to bat last night
The designated hitter for the Norfolk Tides
Baltimore's AAA farm team.
Fluttering in the tepid breeze outside the park
A banner sporting his father's young face flew
A nostalgic image from Cal the legend's tenure as a Charlotte Oriole.
Ryan's twenty-eight now
It looks like Grandpa, Uncle Billy, and Ironman Dad
Will post the big-time family's big-league careers without him.
He stands tall at bat in the farm team uniform
And takes up more physical space at the plate
Than the other famous Ripkens.
I wonder if he saw that flag on his way into the ballpark tonight
Snapping in the wind over the players' entrance.
I thank Chris for sharing her baseball poems and for her many contributions to our community. When it comes to doing her part to make Storied Charlotte a more interesting place to live, Chris is always ready to play ball.
CLICK ON THE ART TAB
Many thanks to Kevin and Ashley of Birdhill Designs for hanging a beautiful show.
It's Going to be TREMENDOUS
What About Baseball?
Many of you might be wondering why, why Chris? why have I said not word 1 about the fact that this week pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training. Believe me, I've been asking myself the same question. That's why I changed the background theme of this-here website to "turf." I needed some reminding.
The truth is I'm covered over with the details, minute and global, of the March 10 opening of the "Evolution of Words & Art" exhibit which I am managing at the Charlotte Art League AND like a complete dumbass, the simultaneous opening of my own show "Painting Words" the same night in the same place at the samd GD time. It seemed like such a good idea... two ekphrastic shows can compliment one another...one is upfront, the other in the back on the "featured artist" wall...blah blah blah. But seriously? What was I thinking?
It's all OK. Things are on schedule. My paintings are ready...ok some need to dry a bit more. But I've gotten to the point where I'm waking up at 3:00 a.m. routinely thinking about stuff like, periods after middle initials on the writer's list, D-rings on the backs of some of my paintings, a wholesale rethink on which poems to produce/print... you get the idea.
So, I think a trip to the store to find a Faygo Red Pop, some hot dogs, and then a look at the MLB TV Spring Training broadcast schedule is in order. I need to PLAY BALL!
Into the Home Stretch
Had a break from getting ready for the March 10 opening of the ekphrasitc show "Evolution of Words & Art" that I'm managing at the Charlotte Art Leage (CAL) last night. My writing buddy, and former student Cole (Luther Kissam V) and I crushed it as the featured poets for Waterbean Poetry at the Mic. It was a lousy weather day, foggy, hard rain, and cold, but turnout was damn good anyway. (See the picture in the left column).
I've been really humping it to get my own ekphrastic work together for the show I'm having as the "artist of the month" in the back gallery at CAL, running the same time as the big show up front. For some unknown reason, many months ago, running these concurrently seemed like a good idea? I'm concentrating this week on making sure all of the oil paintings I'll be using are done and have time to dry by the opening. Whew.
So let this be a warning -- MARCH 10 -- be there! Charlotte Art League. 6-9:00 p.m. Two, count-em, two fantabulous ekphrastic exhibits.
Howdy from Weymouth's Boyd House
Greetings from the Max Perkins room at the Weymouth Center's Writers in Residence Program. I am officially a writer, in residence, in Max's room, writing away for this week in Southern Pines. I am making good use of the fine desk in this very fine old house. (And no, for those of you "in the know" I have not run into any of the ghosts that are supposed to also be residents.)
I've been sorting through all of the poetry I've amassed since publishing my first chapbook, and happily, there's more to work with than I had imagined. It's taken these first couple of days to excavate everything. And honestly, there are a few things in here that I don't even remember writing (!), but overall, I'm surprised to find that I like a lot of it. Maybe it's some kind of Weymouth ju-ju or something. All of my writer friends who have spent time in this program spoke so highly of the place, I think they've left behind creative ether in which I can dwell.
Here's an example I found in my writing notebook, it's dated 9.30.22, and there's nothing else written except this: If there is a god, for sure she cares about bacon and eggs.
Now COME ON, that has to find a home somewhere in my writing, don't you think?
Goodbye and Hello
Just now I submitted the final grades for my ENGL 2126 Introduction to Creative Writing class, Fall semester 2022. It's the last time I will be doing this. As of now, I am leaving the adjunct teaching behind and focusing on my new adventures going forward.
I half expected to feel some sense of the bittersweet, winding up 10+ years of teaching. But honestly, it was time, and I've had not one whiff of regret or any second thoughts. Since my last day standing up in front of a class last week, I've been full-speed ahead with exciting projects, including helping manage an exhibit at the Charlotte Art League in March, as well as doing new work in my studio for my own show, which will also be at CAL in March. And, I'm getting my head ready for a one-week residency at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in January, where I will polish up the next chapbook and send it off into the world.
However old I'm supposed to be, I'm feeling about 49 these days. I'm also sleeping well.