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Stealing Home author to come to North Battleford

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Filed under: News

By: Sean Macey

Dwayne Brenna wasn’t different from most kids growing up in rural Saskatchewan, at a young age his dad put him in baseball and he loved it.

Fifty years later, Brenna still plays. Baseball runs in his blood, and that’s why he wrote Stealing Home: Baseball Poems.

“I always loved this game because no matter what else was happening in my life, baseball was always a refuge for me. It was always something I could be fairly good at and I could enjoy no matter what,” Brenna said.

He lives in Saskatoon now, teaching drama at the University of Saskatoon.

Brenna began writing the poems when he was in Edmonton while his wife was going back to school. The focus wasn’t initially meant to be on baseball.

“I was kind of a house husband,” he said. “I thought I’d write some poetry about home, about feeling lonesome and homesick. I started writing and it was pretty soon I found out that most of what I wrote was about baseball because it featured pretty large in my childhood.”

In fact, it was during his childhood when he experienced his most memorable baseball moment.

“My dad was driving me to my first baseball practice … He drove me there in an old red truck, he was a farmer,” Brenna said. “I just remember sitting there, staring at this old pancake glove that he had for me and wondering if I’d be any good. Then I remember the last thing he said to me as he booted me out of the truck, he said, ‘Tell them you can pitch.’ That was his advice, it was always good advice, I always said that to my kids as well.”

Baseball is the common theme that ties all of his poems together, but most deal with everyday events in life anyone can relate to, he said.

Some are about love, generation gaps and father son relationships.

“The best poems in the book aren’t really about baseball at all, it’s just baseball’s a kind of a backdrop to them,” he said.

This was Brenna’s first book of poetry, but he’s written numerous others. Fiction and non-fiction. This was his favourite book to write, though.

“To sit down in an evening and meditate on a poem for a while was not a real problem for me. I loved writing it. I had a great time writing it and I hope that the reader has as much fun reading it as I had writing it.”

When Brenna moved to a new city, he’d often get lonely. He spent two years living in England while he worked towards his PhD and, not knowing anyone, he decided to join the Essex Arrows, a baseball team. Before he knew it he had made 12 new friends.

That’s what he says makes his poems so universal – they deal with real life, but for him it always ties back into baseball.

“There’s a lot of real life stuff going on in there, and one of the things I keep saying to people is everything in the book is true,” Brenna said.

During his travels he never forgot his roots. Brenna ties most of his stories back to where it all began - Saskatchewan.

“We shouldn’t sell ourselves short there, it’s really got a strong baseball tradition.”

He will be travelling throughout the country to read from his book. Regina, Red Deer and Edmonton are all on his schedule.

Aug. 16, Brenna will be in North Battleford at Crandleberry’s with his 16-year-old son Connor. While Dwayne reads, Connor will be playing piano behind him. It’s all part of the strong family connection baseball helped create.

“It will hopefully take people down memory lane a little bit, and if they get tired of listening to my voice they can listen to my son play piano, he’s quite good,” Dwayne said.


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