I've drawn Nick Wong, who has contributed an essay about his experiences training in boxing gyms throughout Latin America. I know very little about boxing, but in recalling how my favorite baseball writings don't deal exclusively with baseball (and I know a ton about baseball)--but rather address the ups and downs of life through the lens and terminology of baseball--I appreciate how Nick's piece does the same via boxing, and I'm excited to learn. My song, "The Stance," draws from the entirety of the essay, but particularly this passage:
Entering a boxing gym in another country makes you a tourist in two ways. The first being the quite obvious one of being in another country, but the second is a more subtle form of diplomacy. The way you hold your hands, the distance of your stance, whether you lead left hooks off the jab or always follow up with the right hand, is a representation of your school. Essentially, it is your dialect to the language of boxing, and once you announce an intention to fight, the entire ambiance of the gym shifts; people stare as you walk by, silently estimating how you size up in the ring.
I feel very fortunate to have scored this pairing, but then so many serendipitous moments occur through the evening that I imagine it would have happened with anyone--the idea (and individuals producing content) is just that good.
Photos: Melissa Thompson