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Headhunting and Other Sports Poems, Poems by Philip Raisor
Headhunting and Other Sports Poems, Philip Raisor’s third collection, explores how sports enters our lives through front, back, and side doors, while we are sleep or dying, arguing, praying, or running hell-bent from memories that won’t let go. Knee injuries end an athlete’s career, a wife prefers the opera to a husband’s hockey night, war and domestic violence haunt games played by sons, daughters, and fathers, Phil Mickelson and Wilt Chamberlain make cameo appearances, a life-long sports addict petitions for entrance to heaven. Raisor digs at the dark areas in sports experience to pry loose principles worth preserving, games worth celebrating. He honors American sport for its joy, pain, and what it says about us.
“In Phil Raisor’s Headhunting, we are given high-def poems rooted in the world of sports, but, more than that, they are life poems realized through the medium of sport. The voices found in these pages are honest, elegant, raw, filled with kinetic energy and the wisdom we all sweat for—whether we are athletes or not. After savoring this connection, it’s impossible not to wonder how, in a country so mesmerized by sports, how we have lived without a poetry that celebrates their full complexity? These poems do this and do it beautifully. “—Tim Seibles, author of Fast Animal
“It’s unusual to find someone who has both experience with sport at a rarified level, and the chops to evoke the games we play with such imagination and resonance, but that’s what you’ll find in these pages. Philip Raisor is the bard of those times, which, as he puts it, ‘everything is on the line but your life.’ If there’s consonance between Raisor’s subjects and our memories, it’s because the heads in the poet’s crosshairs are, in so many instances, our own.”—Alexander Wolff, author of Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure
Philip Raisor was born in Muncie, Indiana, and, though currently living in Virginia, he remains rooted to that community where his family has lived for over a hundred years. His most recent book, Outside Shooter: A Memoir, about sports, love, and race, narrates his growing up there and traces his basketball playing days through Indiana, Kansas (with Wilt Chamberlain), and Louisiana. Now a professor emeritus of English at Old Dominion University, Raisor’s poems have appeared in Southern Review, Poetry Northwest, Midwest Quarterly, Tar River Poetry, Cultural Studies/Critical Methodologies and elsewhere. He has published articles, interviews, and reviews on Browning, Arnold, Joyce, Faulkner, and numerous contemporary writers, including a volume of essays on W. D. Snodgrass. His previous collection is Swimming in the Shallow End.