Let’s Play!: Poems About Sports and Games from Around the World

This is an exuberant collection of poems about a variety of activities, from team sports to board games, skipping rhymes to computer games. In their introductory note, Chatterjee and D’Arcy express the ‘hope that our selection may tempt you to compile your own collection of poems about YOUR favourite games and sports. Or maybe you could write your own poems about them? Most of all, we hope that, when you look at our book, you have fun!’ Their aim is fully achieved.

The poems are drawn from a wide pool, both temporal and geographical, beginning with a well-chosen extract from Sir Henry Newbolt’s ‘Vitae Lampada’ (1892) and ending with one from Grantland Rice’s 1908 ‘Alumnus Football’ – the modernity of both of which belie their age. In between are some charming examples of concrete poems, such as Roger Stevens’s ball-shaped ‘The Football Team’ and the hill-shaped ‘Toboggan’ by David Whitehead. Visually, the book is stunning: Shirin Adl’s illustrations use a variety of techniques including drawing, collage and scraffito; the hard cover is robust enough to withstand the repeated readings this book will undoubtedly have, and the endpapers, featuring silhouettes of people playing games seen through multicoloured tissue paper, are works of art in themselves. Four pages at the end of the book give information about the 31 different sports and games featured. It would be an added bonus to have some information about the poets, but these poems are likely to get you online to find out more anyway.

Highly recommended for all ages.