This is a new series on celebrity authors.
I got to know Lanny Poffo several years ago, when he agreed to appear in an education ad series I ran while at Lerner Newspapers. Poffo not only appeared in the ad, he produced a special poem and he gave me a lengthy phone interview. As always, Poffo went above and beyond.
During the early part of Poffo's career with the WWE, he recited poems (that he wrote) about his opponents. Poffo was the Poet Laureate of the WWE. In 1988, those poems, along with others that Poffo had written about wrestlers and other topics, were compiled into one book, Wrestling With Rhyme.
Even now, 20+ years later, this book is fun to read. Whether Poffo is talking about the kilt of Roddy or Jesse the Body, whether he writes about attitude or gratitude, whether the topic is his dad, mom and brother or any other, Poffo is at his wittiest best. The images, nostalgia and life lessons come across brilliantly without being overbearing.
He even put in a couple poems on smoking. This surely was an omen of things to come with his second book, Limericks From the Heart (and Lungs), which I will feature here at a future point.
Recently, I asked Poffo about the reaction he got from other wrestlers. His response was typical Lanny Poffo.
Some of the wrestlers reactions were to take drugs and die young. One became Governor of Minnesota. Still others just moved on. I've learned not to be too concerned about the reactions of wrestlers. Poetry expresses my individuality and I consider myself to be a human being first and a wrestler second.
To me, that statement speaks volumes about the man behind the poems. It's no wonder that when I interviewed others for the article, everyone from his former teacher Mrs. Mochel to other wrestlers to fans, all spoke of his integrity, his compassion and his love for life.
When I was younger, I enjoyed Leaping Lanny's athleticism and his poems. I thought he was superb as 'The Genius'. However, none of that compares to meeting Poffo and being fortunate enough to call Lanny a friend. You can't walk away from meeting Poffo with anything but a smile and you can't read this book and not feel good about things.