In 2010, the Poetry Trust, an organization that promotes poetry in the U.K., hired a Matt Harvey as the first Wimbledon Championship Poet. For a fortnight, fans of rhyme and meter were treated to poems about how a green sphere traversed the green lawn. Here’s a short excerpt from ‘thowk':
bounce bounce bounce bounce
thwackety wackety zingety ping
hittety backety pingety zang
wack, thwok, thwack, pok
thwikety, thwekity, thwokity, thwakity
cover the court with alarming alacrity
smackety dink, smackety dink
boshety bashity crotchety crashety
up loops a lob with a teasing temerity
leaps in the air in defiance of gravity
puts it away with a savage severity
coupled with suavity
(reaches for towel with a certain serenity)
As near as we can tell, the Poetry Trust did not send Matt Harvey, or any other poet, to chronicle any of the other championships, so we’ll just have to make due with a repeat of Bill’s conversation with Harvey from 2010.
Highlights from Bill’s conversation with Harvey:
BL: Are there any perks, do you get robes, a scepter, or perhaps a special hat?
MH: I don’t need robes, I don’t need a scepter or a special hat. What I have is a very special laminated badge that gets me access to pretty much all areas. People would die for this badge. So I can go anywhere except the players’ dressing rooms.
What it doesn’t do, this is tragic, it doesn’t get me just free access to centre court or the show court whenever I would like. And that’s because Wimbledon has said to me, “Look, could you focus more on the background and get the umpires and the ball boys and the Q and the strawberries and the Boston ivy clambering up the side of the buildings? You’re not a sports poet, Matt.” They say, “You’re not a sports journalist-poet.” So I’m here to really write about the setting.
BL: Somebody told me that you had tried to rhyme ‘Federer’ with ‘et cetera’ and I was a little dubious about that one.
MH: I think ‘tried’ is the wrong word there, I think I actually did. No, I confessed that to a journalist when I was working on a little sonnet that might try and get away with that. And actually I think that little sonnet is working quite well and I think I’m probably going to put it up on the blog later and hope no one notices.
Harvey did put that little sonnet up, here’s an excerpt from ‘Wimbledon Dreams':
So many dreamers, with a common theme:
fame, prizes, praise, etcetera etcetera…
(But one will wake and still be Roger Federer)