The Poet, the Yanks, and the Geeks

 Marianne Moore throws out first pitch

Washington Post reporter Alec Klein has a new book. He spent a year observing and interviewing students at his old high school, New York City’s Stuyvesant (more about the book at a later date).

Alec graduated in 1985; I’m a 1967 grad. Our experiences differed somewhat: old and new buildings; his classmates included (zowie!) girls and more Asian American kids. In some ways it was the same: an entrance exam; no leveling peer pressure to act dumb-average, a significant part of U.S. teen culture elsewhere. Sports, except for the chess club and perhaps fencing, were not that important. Today’s Stuyvesant is proud of its Robotics Team.

My big high school sports memory is when Marianne Moore came and read her poem about baseball. A frail old woman in a three-cornered hat, she sat alone in the center of the stage, her coat on to ward off the old auditorium’s chill.

I don’t recall who invited her; we had students who were published poets, and authors and editors on the faculty. I didn’t even find it surprising that an elderly Pulitzer-prize winner would trudge into Manhattan to recite poems to a bunch of high school geeks. Stuff like that happened at Stuyvesant.

A Brooklynite, Moore adopted the Yankees when the Dodgers decamped for the West Coast. If you like baseball but not poetry, or vice versa, read the poem. It quotes actual players, the found poetry of the ballfield.

Writing is exciting
and baseball is like writing.
You can never tell with either
how it will go
or what you will do; . . .

Just the sort of thing to raise a cheer from the Stuyvesant bleachers.


Stuyvesant seal; teams are the politically-incorrect Peglegs

2 Responses to “The Poet, the Yanks, and the Geeks”

  1. Frank Dana Says:

    Just in the interest of historical accuracy, if Alec Klein graduated from Stuy in 1985, I’m fairly sure his experience had even more in common with yours than you say. He would have spent his HS years at 345 E. 15, same as you and I.

    When I graduated in 1992, we proudly incorporated into our senior class t-shirt design the fact that we represented the last class to spend all four years of our Stuyvesant education roaming those venerable old halls.

    The new Battery Park Stuyvesant HS opened for classes in September 1992.

  2. Mike Licht Says:


    Right you are. I hadn’t read the book yet (review to come) and I wanted to describe the Marianne Moore assembly before it faded from my mind.

    I will also describe another poetry reading soon–one with an audience of 10,000.

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