Dog Day Doggerel and Sun Shine Sonnets will literately litter the grounds and course ways of the London Olympic Games. Tomes will shower to the Thames and explode with words, wisdom and wit. But will poets take the podium? Starter gun, please.
Illustration by Luc Melanson
Champions of Verse
Poetry’s Relationship With the Olympics
By TONY PERROTTET
Sports fans are not necessarily renowned for their literary tastes — their passions oft running less to soulful ruminations than to beer-fueled stadium chants — so Olympics observers may be flummoxed by the sudden proliferation of poetry related to the 2012 Games. This weekend, international poets have converged on London to orate in 50 languages at a festival called Poetry Parnassus, with 100,000 copies of their collected work to be dropped by helicopter on the venue by the Thames. Another poetic project, “The Written World,” will feature a poem from each of the 204 competing Olympic countries read live and broadcast daily by the BBC. And verse has been engraved on plaques of stone, metal and wood emblazoned at strategic points throughout the Olympic Park, for the edification of athlete and spectator alike.