Laid out on the page like the players on the pitch, Laura DiNovis Berry’s first poem, “Meet the Players”, in Egg Shaped Ball published by Indies United Publishing House LLC, is a map to women’s rugby. We see where each stands and we learn what kind of women play:
12) Insider Center: Less /woman, more wild horse. /She tramples, charges, bucks
14) Right Wing: She is like/ a bolt shot from a crossbow,/ an uncatchable foe
I’d never considered sports as poetry before reading this volume of poems. In fact, I’d rarely considered sports much beyond a way to hang with my ice hockey loving college boyfriend—we never missed a home game. Now I have a new appreciation for not only sports, but women’s sports. These poems focus the tension, the tests, and the triumphs of women’s rugby.
The lingering trail of fire is mesmerizing.
How can you look away from her?
A comet scorching earth,
destroying every body in her trajectory.
She combusts at her destination,
appearing as a constellation of triumphant stars.
Laura’s team is named White Horses. Sounds pastoral, serene. Think again! “the ensuing stampede is always unexpected”—hooves score the earth. The game is brutal and the women must play harder than men to be recognized. “First Contact”—Shoulder breaks into/ spongy flesh above the hip/. . ./ Crashing down into oblivion . But the poet assures us “It’s true, we can serve cold punishment too./ A hard shoulder drive, some nice footwork,/ but we must be clever, quick -/wily.” from the tongue-in-cheek poem: “A Rugby Player Scoffs At Victim Blaming After Being Tackled Repeatedly By The Men On Her Team. ” According to Laura, “Bruises are Medals”,
Bruises are medals and badges we flaunt.
Our hearts are full of sneers./The scrum of flesh becomes a battering ram.
The poems tell the story of “the pain of the biting, pounding fray,” the exhilaration of the play and the pride of the win. They also depict the debilitating defeats and the fight for the right to play. Title poem, “Egg Shaped Ball”, a prose poem, says it all: You would have seething before. Back in the days when you’d first gotten your hands on that egg shaped ball and felt something click into place with a snarl. Fighting for the privilege to be smeared to shit on a dirty field meant everything.
This collection is a passionate view into a world few of us know. It’s a collection of strong action, physical duress, joyful wins and deep introspections into a topic of timely import: women’s sports. Told in vivid language from the pitch and Laura’s poetic heart, it is at times bold and prosaic and other times lyrical with unexpected rhythm and rhyme—something like White Horses galloping across a plain.
About the Poet:
After having once been forced by circumstance to ignore poetry, Laura DiNovis Berry has since dedicated her life to it. She has fallen madly, deeply in love with this craft. Inspired by all the ridiculous, frightening, wonderful, and adorable things she has discovered during her time on Earth, Laura DiNovis Berry writes what she hopes will be wonderful things for others to discover.
In addition to writing poetry, Berry also provides free reviews at Berry’s Poetry Book Reviews for her fellow poets in hopes that modern poetry can be shared with a wider audience.