Jill Bialosky: The Players in our lives

Jill Bialosky

-Andy Ross

Home-runs and stadium chants do not typically fill the pages of a poetry collection, but then again, Jill Bialosky is not your typical poet. The Ohio native’s latest collection, The Players, uses the baseball diamond as a landscape for thoughts on motherhood, gender roles, and the legacies of family. Jill Bialosky will be a featured guest at the Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday April 23rd. Check out the full interview for information about The Players, the Ohioana Book Festival, and more.

The Players, released in early 2015, is Bialosky’s fourth poetry collection. The first section, “Manhood,” finds itself in the middle of a baseball field. Chanting fans and baseball jargon frame the narrative of family relationships. The title itself is a bit of a play on words; it refers to the players on a team, as well as the central characters of a family dynamic.

“The Players is very much about the legacy of generations. It explores the nature of attachment within these generations,” Bialosky said. “I also see it very much of a story on motherhood. So the players are really the players in our lives.”

Bialosky saw the impact of the sport on her family firsthand. Her son played baseball competitively throughout his childhood and was recruited to play at the college level. A self-described “baseball mother,” Bialosky saw the sport as much more than a game.

“I really came to appreciate the game in a way I had never appreciated before,” Bialosky said. “The skill, concentration, and commitment involved is, in some ways, very similar to the art of writing poetry.”

And while much of the collection uses baseball to carry its message, the collection does have three distinct movements: “Manhood,” “Interlude,” and “The Players.” The middle section, “Interlude,” forgoes the focus on direct family relationships in favor of one of Bialosky’s more personal passions: literature.

“There are three poems in that section and they really deal with my love of literature,” Bialosky continued. “I was using that interlude as a way of writing about how the characters in novels can become players in our own lives.”

Also released in 2015 is The Prize, the most recent of three novels by Bialosky. Set in the bustling New York City arts scene, it intersects passion with commerce.

“In The Players, I use the baseball diamond as a way of reflecting on relationships,” Bialosky said. “In The Prize, I’ve chosen the fascinating world of how art is made and sold.”

Catch Jill Bialosky at Ohioana Book Festival on Saturday, April 23rd, where you can talk to her about her four poetry collections, three novels, and a memoir: History of a Suicide.

About Doug Dangler

Current: Host of Craft on WCBE, 90.5 FM, central Ohio's NPR station. Former: creator, host, and producer of Writers Talk
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