O something pernicious and dread! Something far away from a puny and pious life—Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself” (The Joys, 196)


Walt Whitman–he’s escaped what afflicts you and me, “something escaped from the anchorage, and driving free.” Now, Poetry Slow Down, this has been an eventful year, has it not? And I’m thinking of you, in the suffering heat, and of our times, hospitals, operations, deaths, births, losses of ones on two and four feet and winged, sorrows, bellows, neighs, pants, cries, and every which wayness happening illimitably. So it’s time to hang a sign on our door and say, Gone Fishing. There is something about poetry and fish, poetry and fishing that is ancient and that we have to hear.


So come away with me, Poetry Slow Down, from the pernicious and dread, close the doors, put up a sign, Gone Fishin, KRXA 540AM, and we’ll chill with Whitman, Billy Collins, e.e. cummings, Elizabeth Bishop, Shelley, Gerard Manely Hopkins, Thomas Hardy, Dylan Thomas, Pablo Neruda, Chuck Tripi, Herman Melville, Yeats, and me coming to terms with my inner bear/fisherman/fish.


We’re exploring what we mean by such a sign as Gone Fishing, for poetry and creativity and being awake and present in this world. What is it about Gone Fishing, putting up that sign? A socially sanctioned hookey? An eat-your-hearts-out moment? But the poets don’t leave us behind to taunt us with where they are and we’re not. They take us imaginatively with them, only leaving work to do The Work of the poet, casting the mind’s eye on our world’s waters, “gone” enough to be present  . . . to get us “out there,” “outa here,” and “hear” what our world has to say to us.  This show is not just about fishing, but . . . being gone, getting ourselves gone, to a place we need to be. A workday excursion, excused, perhaps because it IS The Work. The act, the practice, the devotion, the art, the science of being gone, no longer present, to be present in a different way that we need and upon which, perhaps, our world and lives depend. I suggest poetry as a practice of Gone Fishing is a way of Carpe Diem, catching the world’s meaning, seizing it, and perhaps letting it go, alive for us on the page of poetry, and we’re seeing “Rainbow!” (Bishop, “The Fish”). Meanwhile, heat, what heat? Okay, we’re slowed down, we’re catching the day. Thank you for joining me, and I’ll catch you later.

Barbara Mossberg, Dr. B

© Barbara Mossberg 2011

Produced by Sara Hughes

KRXA 540AM, Broadcast Live, August 7, 2011, from Yosemite National Park. Thank you to all who contributed to this production, Wawona Hotel/Yosemite Park Service, LeConte Memorial Lodge and Dr. Bonnie Gisel, “Billy” from Budget/Logan Interantional Airport (Go, Red Sox! And wait for future program), and Sophia Mossberg.

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