Citation Edwards JD (2017) Kenneth Goldsmith’s Sports and Conceptual Baseball Writing. Nine: a Journal of Baseball History and Culture, 25 (1-2), pp. 132-149. https://doi.org/10.1353/nin.2016.0007
Abstract Much has been written about Kenneth Goldsmith's poem Sports, but scholarship on the text has completely ignored the significance of baseball. Literary critics have read the text in relation to Goldsmith’s project of conceptual poetry, his uncreative writing, banality, the poetics of erasure, poetry and information, as well as a literary meditation on consumption and production, excess and waste.[i] The eradication of baseball is particularly surprising because the text is a complete transcription of a radio broadcast of a nine inning MLB game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox on August 18, 2006. The critical focus on the text’s form, and the subsequent elision of its content, is partly based on Goldsmith’s poetic project: his development of conceptual writing that, for instance, includes the transcription of weather forecasts (Weather, 2005) and traffic reports (Traffic, 2007).[ii] In each of these works, Goldsmith strives to systematize the writing process by transcribing unprocessed speech into textual form and, in so doing, he underscores the obstinate logic of information abundance, embracing the overwhelming experience of massive data streams of language. However, among the plethora of sports matches broadcast each day – football, hockey, basketball, soccer, tennis, golf – Goldsmith chooses baseball for Sports. This is not a random choice. For baseball speaks to his project of creating a seemingly mundane repository of cultural discourse by receiving and textually re-transmitting the ambient signals that constantly bombard us, capturing moments in that bombardment and preserving them in the form of the literary work.