Before Dunn was a poet, he played basketball. He attended Hofstra University on a basketball scholarship. His life as an athlete has influenced his poetry, as seen in the poem "Losing Steps."
How are poetry and sports related? Phillis Levin, Hofstra’s poet in residence, says that poetry and sports are related in the sense that both the athlete and the poet “get in the zone.” A basketball player, when immersed in the game, does not think about each movement; it happens naturally. He or she does not think “Okay now I am going to move my left leg, then my right...” the same way that a poet becomes immersed in language when writing. Both poetry and sports are very connected to movement and the intuitive experience. Levin says, "the intuition itself is a result of long hours of practice and training translating into the ability to respond moment to moment to whatever arises."
"What basketball and poetry have in common is that they each provide opportunities to be better than yourself — opportunities for transcendence." -Stephen Dunn