Semi-Gross: Thoughts on the U.S. Open, 1978

By Dorn, Edward | Chicago Review, Summer-Fall 1996 | Go to article overview

Semi-Gross: Thoughts on the U.S. Open, 1978


Dorn, Edward, Chicago Review


These poems and this essay by Edward Dorn appeared in the Spring 1979 issue of Chicago Review, which was devoted to the topic "Black Mountain and Since: Objectivist Writing in America." The issue included new work by writers associated with Black Mountain College - Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, Hilda Morley - as well as critical works by Charles Altieri and Charles Olson. Dorn is perhaps best known for his book, Gunslinger, and had recently published Hello La Jolla when these works were first published.

When the Australians altered tennis some years back by concentrating on power, they "changed the game" so that finesse took a long nose dive and struggle replaced art.

Winning or losing, Borg looks better than Connors because Borg's game is visually interesting. When Connors says he loves us even if we don't love him he's thinking of a lusterless style, and doesn't really care whether Jimmy is likeable or not.

The quality of the talk has fallen right into line with the general cheapening of the game, and the "net" result is a mere pre-zentation. Voice of Tony Trabert: John McEnroe's tempo just in his walk, has slowed down, seems to me to be dejected. Next voice: Connors's tempo has picked up! Boy! what a turnaround. I gotta think he's gonna cross the next one. There's a lotta Tension. The crowd is getting some of the tension. I'd like to see a good bread & butter service right here. That's what McEnroe is thinking, where am I gonna serve this one this time. To me it's amazing how in sports it can change so quickly. He needs more punch, he shoulda punched that one. There's a lotta road-work action around the baseline.

Since there is no reason to do otherwise, one assumes the word Punch is being used as in Bagwork. This running judgement has all the aural appeal of a wet jock strap hitting the lockerroom floor. A tennis crowd is inherently watchful. It is a game to follow, the connection between the player and the crowd is concentration. Concentration is important in other games from the crowd's standpoint but it is discontinuous, as in baseball, as in football, as in most team sports, except occasionally soccer, and sometimes hockey.

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