Cricket In Verse

Published: 2017
Pages: 42
Author: Fenton, Peter
Publisher: The Cricket Press
Rating: 3.5 stars

Books released by individual poets on the subject of cricket are few and far between. Digby Jephson, a lob bowler, released A Few Overs in 1913. Another collection from someone I’m unfamiliar with, Arthur Salway, appeared in 2014 entitled, perhaps over optimistically (as I couldn’t find a second volume) Cricket Poetry -Volume 1. The only one I have read, and reviewed, was Covers by Nick Whittock although, and it was probably just me, I didn’t understand any of the poems.

There was no problem understanding any of Peter Fenton’s 15 poems in Cricket in Verse however. They are clearly set out and, unlike some poems, they all rhyme. Fenton’s offerings are mostly in a couplet style although occasionally the author pens a free verse poem. Apart from two, the rest are about individual players with Bradman’s ‘greats of 48’ having no less than seven of that iconic team featured.

Fenton’s efforts are of a reminiscence style and are all positive. They mainly celebrate the heroes of his youth, as Fenton travelled to the SCG as a kid to watch the greats of the 1940s and 1950s.

An idea of how Fenton’s poems transport one back to the era of discourse can be gauged by the response of the great Neil Harvey to the poem about his career. Apparently on hearing it Harvey shed a tear and when you read the poem you will understand why. Fenton sums up all you would have read about the twinkle toed left hander in just 20 lines of prose.

That is the real strength of the writer. Fenton has the ability to transport the reader back to his subject’s heyday, Richie Benaud being a prime example. The unbuttoned shirt, his match winning performance in 1961, and even the fact he won the Australian captaincy over his good mate Harvey, sums up Benaud’s career succinctly.

Anyone who has ever tried to write a poem on a cricket legend will know how hard it is to encapsulate the subject while still making it rhyme.  Capturing the essence of his heroes, while maintaining the quality of his poems, is a fine achievement by Fenton.

A bonus with Cricket in Verse is an added CD which features the author reading all his cricket poems. If you have not heard Fenton read his own work, you are in for a real treat. He possesses a mellifluous voice and reads his poems with passion.

It is hoped that the quality of the offerings in Cricket in Verse when combined with the always high production values of this publisher will inspire other talented writers to produce some quality cricket poems. Cricket in Verse is highly recommended and will be enjoyed by both fans of cricket and quality writing.

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