The Accidental Poetry of Athletes’ Post-Game Interviews: An Excerpt From ‘Erratic Fire, Erratic Passion’

Sports fans everywhere were saddened last week to hear of the death of former NBA player Darryl Dawkins, at the age of only 58. As much as his skill on the court, Dawkins will be remembered fondly for his flamboyant way with words — he dubbed himself “Dr. Dunkenstein,” “Sir Slam,” and, most memorably, “Chocolate Thunder,” and his post-match interviews were the stuff of legend, especially if he’d just broken a backboard (which he tended to do.)

As chance would have it, Dawkins is one of the athletes included in Erratic Fire, Erratic Passion, a new collection of athletes’ post-game interviews by Pashia Malla and Jeff Parker. The writers describe the book as “a compendium of found poems pieced together from the post-game interviews of professional athletes.” In the wrong hands, this concept could be cheesy and awful, but Malla and Parker carry it off to great effect — their handling of athletes’ words is careful and respectful, and the results are surprising: profound, funny, poignant and occasionally beautiful. Flavorwire is pleased to excerpt a selection from Erratic Fire, Erratic Passion — the book is out October 13.

FROM THE PLANET LOVETRON…
Darryl Dawkins

The Funkadelic.
The Rim Wrecker.
The Spine Chiller Supreme.
The Look-Out-Below,
Cover-Your-Head,
In-Your-Face Disgrace.

The Mama Shakin’
Rim Breakin’
Teeth Shakin’
Get-Out-the-Wayin’
Backboard Swayin’
Game Delayin’
If-You-Ain’t-Groovin’-You-Best-Get-Movin’
Dunk.

The Yo Mama Special
The Go-Rilla
The Turbosexaphonic Delight
The Heartstopper
The Rump-roaster
The Bun-toaster
The Kickshaker
and
The Babymaker.

The Chocolate Thunder Flyin’
Glass Flyin’
Robinzine Cryin’
Parents Cryin’
Babies Cryin’
Cats Cryin’
Glass Still Flyin’
Thank-You-Ma’am,
Wham-Bam,
Glass-Breaker-I-Am
Jam.

Chocolate Thunder’s

Takin’ ’em under.


HOW BEAT UP ARE YOU?

Kevin Garnett

I’m beat up,
John. I’m beat up.
I’m beat up.
I’m—
I’m beat up.

I’m out there,
I suit up every night.
I suit up every night.
Banged up, hurt, whatever.

A hundred percent, thirty percent:
Ain’t no numbers.
It’s in my heart
And you can’t measure that.

I’m losing.
I’m losing.
I’m losing.
I’m losing.


 

I LOVE ME SOME ME
Terrell Owens

I don’t want that to be the headline.
I’m human;
That’s what people don’t realize.
I don’t have no friends.
I don’t want no friends.
I don’t have to play football.
I don’t see outside of me.


 

I, BEST
George Best

I’ve been kicking since I was one year old.
I have lovely memories of home.
I was the same as all the other kids.
I was the only kid who kept his vest on.
I was just another player.
I was only learning.
I had a dream that came true.
I just looked forward to going out to play so much.
I always felt like an entertainer out there.
I think I can remember almost every goal I scored.
I scored from a corner.
I knew I’d scored a great goal.
I used to do things like that for fun.
I was only starting.
I enjoyed being one of the boys.
I liked being a man’s man.
I also happened to enjoy women’s company.
I think everybody knows I like Swedish girls.
I like screwing, all right?
I’d have a go at anything.
I think balance is very important.
I always got sent off for silly things.
I started to have a lot of doubts.
I fought it and fought it and fought it.
I didn’t know what was going on.
I learnt too late.
I still have dreams about that split second when everything stood still.
I can’t remember much about it.
I just kept running until I saw space.
I’d let them down as well as myself of course.
I went back on my own.
I came back and I basically didn’t know what to do.
I came back and faced the same sort of problems.
I don’t want to face any more problems.
I don’t actually believe that nothing’s impossible.
I don’t expect it, but it’s a fact of life.
I never played in a Cup Final or a World Cup.
I would have loved to.
I’ve still got a little bit of a way to go.