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Poetry Moment: Marjorie Maddox and 'The Difference Between Women and Men'

Poet Marjorie Maddox
Melanie Rae
Poet Marjorie Maddox

Poetry Moment on WPSU is a program featuring the work of contemporary Pennsylvania poets. Host Shara McCallum is this year’s Penn State Laureate.

Today’s poem is “The Difference Between Women and Men” by Marjorie Maddox.

Marjorie Maddox is the author of 13 books of poetry, most recently Begin with a Question. Today’s poem comes from her earlier collection, When the Wood Clacks Out Your Name. In addition to poetry, Maddox has published a short story collection and four books for children. She is also the co-editor of Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania. Maddox is a long-time resident of Williamsport and Professor of English at Lock Haven University.

This past weekend we hit the vernal equinox, the first day of spring. For many, spring is also signaled by the return of baseball. This is especially true where Maddox resides, Williamsport being home to the Little League World Series. Maddox also happens to be the great grandniece of Branch Rickey, who helped integrate baseball when he signed Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers. Maddox has written several poems about the sport. About today’s, she shared with me it was composed early in her time in Williamsport, when she lived in a duplex overlooking a baseball field. From there, she would watch games played by both female and male teams, noting how much more “supportive” the women seemed to her than did the men. “They allowed themselves to really have fun and cheer each other on,” Maddox added. Her observations gave birth to the imagined scene at the heart of “The Difference Between Women and Men.” The poem’s delightful word play and rich imagery captures the spirit of Maddox’s thoughts on sisterhood. It also recreates for us a moment of joy.


The Difference Between Women and Men

                            Monday night is a shout
for dust and dogs and dugouts
and Donna on third digging into the dirt
that steals the night toward home—a Hallelujah
that swings its hips a mile high and hovers,
waiting for a reply.
                           No waddayathink whispers
under these shoes. The cleats hurt everything
quiet. Voice is where wood comes from
before it’s smug enough to star
in this four-plate circus, smacking
of leather and noise.
                          And when
Juanita wraps her fist
around a white that whirls wind
then spins her arm into an eclipse,
                         our hip-heps swell park-size-huge,
                         push air pell-mell into a ditch
                         and let it sit there.

That was “The Difference Between Women and Men” by Marjorie Maddox.
Thank you for sharing this moment of poetry with me today.

Shara McCallum was the 2021-22 host of "Poetry Moment" on WPSU.
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