At first, there was a little hometown poetry contest, sponsored by the Miami Herald and WLRN. Just a bit of wordplay to salute LeBron's arrival to the Miami Heat. Six lines, any style, no fees and no limits to how often aspiring or practiced scribes could enter. Quicker than a Hardaway crossover, NBC, USA Today, The Plain Dealer (Ohio's largest newspaper), The Basketball Jones, and even The New Yorker - in next week's Talk of the Town - are reporting on the challenge. Here are the rules:
-The poem must commemorate the arrival of LeBron James to Miami.
-The poem can utilize any form but cannot exceed six lines (LeBron’s jersey is No. 6).
-No limit to the number of poems you can submit.
-The entry must be received by Friday, October 22 at 6 p.m.
Born in the brain of Dan Grech, a radio news director and producer at WLRN, the contest has received more than 500 entries since lunchtime today, and they keep coming in from all over the country. Six finalists will be selected by P. Scott Cunningham, a poet and director of the O' Miami poetry festival, which will debut next April and hopes to make poetry as ubiquitous in South Florida as coconut palms and gridlock.
"I'm very much into the idea of occasional and doggerel poetry," Cunningham told me via email. "I actually have a poem about Heat Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas published in a journal, in addition to an interview about why writing poems about basketball is legit.
Here's a pseudo-cento Cunningham penned in under a minute:
They shall be telling this with a sigh
somewhere ages and ages hence
two roads diverged on ESPN
and Lebron took the one more traveled by —
rush hour on the 826.
The winner will receive two Heat tickets and the chance to read the winning poem at the finale of O'Miami: A Contemporary Poetry Festival, held at the New World Symphony Campus on Miami Beach.
(photo: Robert Frost, objecting and aghast)