It’s more than baseball. Charming, disarming, and uniquely American, Joe DiMaggio Moves Like Liquid Light provides an appreciation of the simple things in life—but not without analysis. Springfield, Missouri-based poet Loren Broaddus provides an exploration of nostalgia, family, race, jazz, and American history in this poignant new collection.
Broaddus is a lifelong Royals fan and a history teacher for Springfield public schools. He’s been with the district for over 25 years. He is the recipient of the DAR State of Missouri History Teacher of the Year Award in 2015, and was a Finalist for Springfield Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2016, yet, he insists, the best thing about teaching is the kids.
Writing poetry became a passion for Broaddus after he took a creative writing class during his junior year in college at Drury University, taught by Jo Van Arkel, who he now considers a good friend. From there, he wrote for almost twenty years in data books, on scrap paper, or on the back on green passes, without a thought about publishing. His first poetry was published in 2003 by “Spitball—A Literary Baseball Magazine.” He went on to write two limited-edition chapbooks, “Weight” and “The Birthing Tree.”
A longtime lover of both baseball and jazz, Broaddus draws from his personal life and from U.S. history to provide a backdrop for his unassuming, yet thought-provoking poems. Interspersed with quotes from poets, artists, athletes, U.S. presidents, and his own son, each page offers a pearl of wisdom, a think piece, or a slice of nostalgia to chew on. Broaddus’ ability to find universes within a single object, moment, or passing thought shine bright in each poem, along with a subtle Midwestern charm.
For example, in the poem “Houston, 1965,” Broaddus zeroes in on the Astrodome. The poem offers at once excitement and nostalgia, providing a meditation on the optimism of change and pain of losing the past. “Grow or go,” he writes, raising the question of what we gain, and what we may lose, in pursuit of the new.
He also gives readers an inside look at his family life in the poem “Solstice Walk,” describing a day spent with his son. A note of admiration, or perhaps even envy, peeks through as the speaker watches his young son leaning over his stroller, without care, “Not thinking of shorter days…nor fretting the slipperiness of time,” writes Broaddus as he leaves us with a longing for the naïevete of childhood.
In “Deep Faults,” the poet’s Yankees cap becomes a synecdoche for the corruptibility of capitalism. The task of mowing the lawn becomes an act of resistance. Each poem offers a metaphor to unfold into infinity, inviting readers along on an exploration of the external world and our internal longings. Walking the nuanced line between personal and relatable, broad and specific, Joe DiMaggio Moves Like Liquid Light is a collection that readers can return to throughout their lives with the opportunity to glean something new with each read—whether they like baseball or not.
Broaddus currently lives in Springfield, Missouri, with his wife Marilyn, their two children, and their dog Barney. They inspire him every day. Joe DiMaggio Moves Like Liquid Light is available now.