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From Doubles to Couplets: Pickleball Poetry Is Here

Strategy & Technique Frank Cerabino 02-20-2023

A sign of pickleball’s popularity is the way it continues to seep into the culture.

You can see this in the literary world. As the game’s popularity began to grow, it spawned a market for “how to” books that explained the rules and advised players how to play better and adopt winning strategies.

Then over time, other literary efforts began to appear: Murder mysteries with pickleball as a backdrop. Pickleball cookbooks. And now, pickleball poetry.

Yes, pickleball has reached the poetry phase.

Doug Snelson, a 72-year-old children’s book author, has gone from picture books such as The Fable of the Snake Named Slim to a light-hearted, illustrated book of pickleball poetry for adults.

Pickleball Poetry: Fun and Whimsical Verses to Dink About is a product of a writer who, himself, has become a passionate 4.0+ pickleball player over the past eight years.

From Doubles to Couplets: Pickleball Poetry Is Here | Pickler Pickleball

“I play five, six times a week and sometimes twice a day,” said Snelson, who lives in Bluffton, South Carolina, and owns a small publishing company along with his wife, Diane.

Snelson said he has been writing rhyming verses since he was a teenager, but it didn’t dawn on him to write a pickleball poetry book until one day recently, when he found himself sitting on the beach in Long Beach Island, New Jersey, with an urge to write.

“I just had played a couple of hours of pickleball before that, and I was thinking of writing another book that had nothing to do with pickleball,” he said. “And then I start doodling, and writing about the fun I had while playing pickleball.”

He looks back now to the words of the poet Khalil Gibran: “Work is love made visible.”

Gibran wrote about turning your work into an act of love, and “to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart.”

Snelson found that writing about playing pickleball was the kind of writing work that made him happy. And so he began to compile a collection of short verses in rhyming couplets that frame pickleball in poetry’s lens.

Except for the opening poem, all 32 poems in this book are each contained on a single page. And they are illustrated by Jim Ditmars in a way that embellishes the joyful atmospherics that permeate the book.

And somewhere in the mix, Snelson displays more than passing knowledge of the game, imparting the kind of advice you might find in “how to” books.

For example, here’s his poem, “Third Shot Drop”

Like holding a baby chick,
Palm with a loosened grip,
Tossing up, a light flick,
Crossing net, ball will dip.
Ball bounces once within the kitchen,
The chance for points will now enrichen.
But keep in mind, my pickleball friend,
Be ready to repeat this again.
And again, and again.

“I wanted the book to be accessible but fun,” he said.

The humor in it is a humor of recognition. He coyly makes some observations that will ring true to many players.

Here’s his poem, “New Paddle”

New paddle, grit on core,
Could I ask for anything more?
New paddle, serves go deep,
Returns are short, I win a heap.
New paddle, hardly think,
I’m master of the crosscourt dink.
New paddle, I don’t fret,
They hit so hard, and I reset
New paddle, I can shine,
Ball drives smartly right down the line.
New paddle, watch me shred,
The hard truth is it’s in my head.

It’s a breezy collection that can be read in a single setting. Think of it more as a pleasant dessert than a full meal.

“I hope this book makes every pickleball player smile,” Snelson wrote in the book’s introduction. “As in life, always play the soft game, be patient, laugh a lot and paddle click.”


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