Poetry is a young thing, as we all know. Most of the poets have struck their notes between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five. That is just the time when you are in college and graduate school. It is in those ten years that you will strike your note or never. And it is very like athletic prowess in that respect. They are very close together…. The thing itself is indescribable, but it is felt like athletic form. To have form, feel form in sports — and by analogy feel form in verse. One works and waits for form in both.
[Robert Frost: Collected Poems, Prose and Plays, Library of America, p. 771.]
So what does this have to do with Travis Naught? Well, consider the fact that Travis pursued grad studies in Sports Psychology and that he worked with the Eastern Washington University basketball program for ten years before he set that aside to pursue poetry more or less full time. Consider further that Travis is limited by Spinal Muscular Atrophy to a body that will never in this life be able to throw a ball or swing a bat — and Frost’s analogy takes on an even greater significance and poignancy.
Here’s a poem from Travis’s extraordinary book, The Virgin Journals which you all should buy a copy of if you haven’t yet. The poem is called “Lack of Physicality” and I think you’ll see how it ties into what Pinsky said about what Frost said and what I just said about Travis:
Lack of Physicality
It does not matter
That my body of work
Is less physical than yours
Because the number of words
Counted on my page
Are counted like
Your number of barbell curls
Each clever rhyme
Adds up like an assist
Bodies collide in a screen
At the top of the key
Rolling down the lane
A give and go style dime
Aiming to win with each shot
Poised for action
Just like you
So take a look at my lines
See their double meaning
Forget everything about
What you thought you knew
(The Virgin Journals, p. 21)
So listen up people. Forget everything you thought you knew about poetry and check out Travis Naught.
Whose blog this is, a neo-con,
His book is available on Amazon.
He will not see me lurking here;
My comments all will be anon.
My online friends won’t think it queer
If I blog while drinking a six-pack of beer
Between dinner and the ten o’clock news;
It fills my comments with good cheer.
My wife has the spouse-of-a-blogger blues
And asks me if I’ve noticed her cues.
The only other sound’s the click
Of mouse and key as I peruse
This blog and the next one till I’m sick
Of beating a dead horse with a stick
And another evening’s burned its wick,
And another evening’s burned its wick.