Known for his ability between the sticks, Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender has hidden talents the world should also be aware of: writing and performing poetry. It all dates back to his time as a college student for the 22-year-old Sacramento native, when out of the blue he discovered his capacity for channeling his emotions and thoughts to create poetry.
“I think it was between my freshman and sophomore year. One day I just came back from class and sat down, I had some thoughts after having a pretty long day and I felt like I needed to express myself in some way, so I decided to write a poem,” Callender recalled about the origin of his knack for writing poetry. “Fortunately, I had a friend who was there to listen. So, we kind of started sharing poems together and that was just the start of it. I just started writing poetry. It wasn’t like I took a poetry class or anything, it was just kind of a natural way of me starting.”
Callender’s affection for writing poems led to unearthing another skill far from the football pitch, as he eventually figured out that he not only enjoys producing poetry pieces, but performing them in front of others as well.
“The first live performance of a poem I gave was this past October or November. It was in front of a crowd of about maybe 50 to 60 people. It was the first time that I ever performed a poem, so getting up there, I had butterflies and I was nervous. What I found different about this experience from just writing poetry was that it was very liberating for me to read it out loud and share it with a crowd of people.
“Afterward, having people come up to me and say ‘hey your piece really resonated with me, good job’, it felt really good knowing I had something to offer. Poems should be shared was the realization I had then,” he said.
Callender also explained that despite being very different crafts, there are characteristics that soccer and poetry share in common; such as an underlying sense of uncertainty that keeps him on his toes.
“For me, poetry is an emotional style of expression and soccer is an athletic style of expression. I can see how there could be some parallels there in that in both poetry and soccer I’m expressing myself, but not necessarily knowing how or when; it’s something I’m able to figure out as I go along. I don’t know when shots are going to come, I don’t know when that moment in the game is going to come, just how I don’t know when I’m going to write a poem or how I’m going to get inspired. There’s kind of like a mystery about it that I think you can relate to both,” he expressed.
The Inter Miami goalie wrapped up by going over which writer has inspired him the most and a poem that has deeply touched him.
“My biggest literary inspiration would have to be Maya Angelou. One key thing that I was able to take from some of her work was how in her poems she would say what she wanted to say, but she wouldn’t tell you how to feel. It was like her poem was pulling an emotion out of me and letting me come to that realization myself.”
“My favorite poem is a poem by Maya Angelou called And Still I Rise, it’s pretty much a poem about getting knocked down and getting back up. I recommend it for anyone to go and read or listen to. It’s a great poem. It really resonated with me because it really shows that whatever life throws at you, what matters is that you get back up,” Callender concluded.