May 16, 2008KR BlogWriting

On Two Left Feet

This past Sunday, I was a call-in guest on The Shuttlecoque Sporting Hour, an iconoclastic radio program dedicated to “Exploring the Aesthetic Possibilities of Sport, Play, and Games,” broadcast from Portland State University Radio (available, via web, also), and hosted by enthusiasts Eamon ffitch [sic] and Carson Cistulli.

Under deliberation for the show’s “back and forth” discussion segment was a poem by Robert Herrick.

A Sweet Disorder

A SWEET disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:–
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distracti??n,–
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher,–
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbands to flow confusedly,–
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat,–
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility,–
Do more bewitch me, than when art
Is too precise in every part.

The question, posed by Cistulli: “Are there players/moments in sport that stand out/are beautiful not in spite of, but *because of*, their imperfections?”

Cistulli gave the following as example (and I quote):

  • In 2000, Pedro Martinez gave up a no-hitter in the 9th. The amazing thing? The single he gave up (to John Flaherty) came right after he had broken the cross he wears around his neck. That always struck me.
  • Mark Bellhorn, in general. He’s a player who made a career out of having one skill: being able to hit the ball hard when it was pitched to a certain location. Otherwise, he walked and, even moreso, struck out.

I’d like to twist Cistulli’s question a bit, though, and re-pose it for you, websurfers:

“Are there writers/moments in literature that stand out/are beautiful not in spite of, but *because of*, their imperfections?”

Sport is more improvisatory than literature, and does not often permit revision. Since writing is, as they say, re-writing, literature’s moments of clumsiness are only seemingly so–are, in fact, considered moments of clumsiness. This is not in keeping with the spirit of Cistulli’s question. For in order to be truly clumsy, or imperfect, one must not know one is being so–it must be by accident, or by limitation, that it happens.

With that in mind, I’m having trouble answering the question. Any assistance welcome.

“Are there writers/moments in literature that stand out/are beautiful not in spite of, but *because of*, their imperfections?”