Since I've been posting about Canadian poets, I'd be remiss in not including a poem about Canada's sport, hockey! I discussed an entire book of hockey themed poetry last year, Randall Maggs' Night Work, a poetic biography of Terry Sawchuk, which was published by Brick Books and has been very successful. It was very recently awarded the 2008 Winterset Award, celebrating excellence in Newfoundland and Labrador writing (not limited to poetry), worth $5000. Nice.
This April I thought I would share a hockey poem from a more feminine point of view. Lorna Crozier, a poet I absolutely love, wrote a poem in 2002 for the Canadian Women's Olympic hockey team. I recall hearing her read it on the CBC, during an interview with Sheila Rogers, and despite my almost total lack of interest in hockey I loved it. It was quite memorable; however, I have not been able to locate it in the books by Crozier which I own, so I am not sure where it appears in print. Please let me know if you do! I have cribbed this version from the CBC archives and thus am completely uncertain as to the correctness of the line breaks. Sorry, Lorna!!
by Lorna Crozier
(written for our women's hockey team at the Olympics for the final against the Americans, February 21, 2002)
Angels of the House, Angels of Mercy-
yes, they've called women that.
But these are Angels of Ice.
Hard-muscled, sharp, dangerous as winter's cold.
How else do you explain their speed,
the light streaming from their helmets,
the slivers of water under their burning blades that cut across the blue lines
like scissors slicing through the cotton for a quilt?
Lace to these gals is lacing up.
Cinnamon and allspice is slapshot, snapshot, backhand, wrist-
that's the recipe they're passing on from mothers to daughters, to women like me whose brothers in our races at outdoor rinks, skated backwards and beat us every time.
Break away, break away, swift angels carrying the puck,
invisible wings beating, your goalie a blaze of glory in the crease.
All across the North we'll roar and cheer.
You'll fly us far above the boards, above the rooftop of the rink tonight,
fly us into the skate-blade brightness of the winter stars.