e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

Literary Olympics

Since the Olympics are now going full blast and getting comments from all over, I thought I’d add my two pence worth and look around the web to see if there are any literary associations worth noting.

It didn’t surprise me to learn that the ancient Greeks paid poets to write in praise of their sporting events. It did surprise me that from 1912 to 1952 there was a poetry competition alongside the sporting. Details can be found on one of the Library of Congress blogs. Other arts were also included.

East Tennessee State University apparently has a course on the Olympics and gives a reading list of books and films.

There’s a website called Poetry Olympics. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with sport, but using the name ‘Olympics’ indicates that they are aiming to be the best of the best.

In relation to the current Games, there has been an online poetry game at Getset, and there has been a poetry competition for the young.

Amazon has a page devoted to Olympic books, including fiction, but none of the titles meant anything to me. I think the most famous semi-fictional treatment of the Games is probably the film Chariots of Fire – and the musical score is at least as famous as the script.


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6 thoughts on “Literary Olympics

  1. What fascinated me about the 1948 Olympics was that food in Britain was rationed and our athletes had to perform on such meagre amounts. Now the athletes have special diets to improve their chances. Funny, though, it seems as if all the favourites are being beaten (except the Chinese) I think we put our people under too much pressure.


    • I think you’re probably right about the too much pressure. I certainly wouldn’t like to have that on me.

      I wonder how the athletes of 1948 would compare with today’s. I suspect modern ones are faster and and stronger – but maybe not as good at dealing with stress. If you’ve just lived through a war, the Olympics must seem a doddle.

      Thank you for bringing these points up.


  2. Thank you for interesting article about the Olympics..sent it off to friends who have been glued to TV cheering on the Americans ..although three of my friends are not American they are English, French and Australian so there are yeas and boos at same Olympic gathering over fried chicken, fish and chips, scampi beer and wine..any excuse for a party.



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